Aretha Franklin's Handprints Permanently Join 'Legends Plaza' in Detroit


Aretha Franklin's handprints were unveiled Sunday in a ceremony outside the Detroit Historical Society Museum as part of a temporary exhibit honoring the iconic artist and the upcoming film, starring Jennifer Hudson, about her life.

In 2017, Franklin cast her handprints in concrete for the museum when the city dedicated Aretha Franklin Way in the center of the city, however, the handprints have not been seen by the public since her death in 2018.

Franklin's handprints will now sit in Legends Plaza, alongside the handprints of dozens more famous Detroiters, including Alice Cooper, Barry Sanders, and Lily Tomlin.

"Legends Plaza stands as a testament to the worldwide contributions of Detroiters," Elana Rugh, Detroit Historical Society president and CEO, said in a statement, The Detroit News reported. "We are proud that Ms. Franklin chose to add to her legacy with a permanent display on our plaza at the Detroit Historical Museum, and we couldn't imagine a more appropriate space for her handprints to be accessible to her fans from Detroit and across the globe."

Aretha Franklin performs onstage during the "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" Premiere Concert during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

The handprints will remain a permanent feature at the museum. But their unveiling kicks off a temporary exhibit at the Detroit Historical Society Museum in honor of the upcoming release of "Respect," a film based on the singer's life. The exhibit features items like outfits Franklin wore while performing, album covers, and props from the film.

Sunday's unveiling was attended by Hudson, Liesl Tommy, who directed the film, and members of Franklin's family. The movie will be released on Aug. 13.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the museum operates Thursday through Sunday each week. For more information and tickets, visit the Detroit Historical Society Museum website.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at

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