The American Jazz Museum, situated in the historic 18th and Vine District in Kansas City, displays the sounds and sights of jazz through films and interactive exhibits, the Gem Theater performing arts center, visual arts exhibits in the Photography Gallery and Art Gallery, and the Blue Room Jazz Club. Public programming and youth education programs are also offered at the American Jazz Museum, stimulating the music and history that is central to the museum while enriching and entertaining audiences and nurturing future jazz musicians.
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Several permanent exhibitions are on display at the American Jazz Museum. These exhibitions, described by the NY Times as an "interactive paradise," highlight the life of jazz, a great American musical art form. Exhibits feature custom mixing boards, interactive touchscreens, and listening stations that are complemented by displays of commissioned artwork, graphics, and artifacts designed for visitors of all ages and musical backgrounds.
Posters, sheet music, and photographs from the peak of jazz music's popularity offer a context for the historic artifacts, such as a trumpet belonging to Louis Armstrong, the Grafton saxophone used by Charlie Parker, and a sequined gown once worn by Ella Fitzgerald. The Blue Room, named after a once-famous nightclub in the neighborhood, is a nightclub located within the museum that helps keep jazz alive. The Blue Room features memorabilia and photographs from some of the greatest bands of Kansas City, and offers live music four nights a week, paying homage to its jazz heritage.
The American Jazz Museum also contains a vast collection of unique, rare, and priceless artifacts, film and sound recordings, photographs, documents, sheet music, visual artwork, and published books that enlighten visitors' understanding of jazz music as a living and historical art form. The life and work of the country's jazz musicians, as well as the impact of jazz on the society and culture of the United States and particularly in Kansas City, is showcased through documents, photographs, and artifacts displayed throughout the museum. Among these artifacts are all kinds of musical instruments, including the bass drum played by Ernie Williams and the violin used by Claude “Fiddler” Williams. Personal items found in the museum's collection include handwritten letters from Pearl Thuston Brown and John Coltrane as well as outfits Ella Fitzgerald wore during her performances.
In addition to artifacts, documents, and photographs, the American Jazz Museum maintains a continuously growing library of sound recordings on compact discs, cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl records, and phonograph cylinders. These capture the evolution of jazz from the beginning of recorded sound to the up-and-coming stars and jazz masters of today. The museum's music library also includes a variety of sheet music of compositions of jazz and other genres. An art collection is also part of the museum's holdings and includes sculptures, photography, and paintings with a focus on artwork celebrating jazz music, the African American experience, and jazz culture.
1616 East 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108, Phone: 816-474-6262