Acclaimed as an “interactive paradise” by the NY Times, these exhibits bring to life the great American art form of jazz. Listening stations, touch screen interactives, and custom mixing boards complement displays of artifacts, graphics, and commissioned artwork in a sculpturally dynamic space that makes this sophisticated musical style accessible and engaging for visitors of different ages and musical backgrounds.
Throughout the exhibits, collections of photos, sheet music, and posters from the heyday of jazz create context for historic artifacts such as Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone, one of Louis Armstrong’s trumpets, and a sequined gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald.
Keeping jazz alive is the Blue Room, a new nightclub built within the museum and named after a once famous nightclub across the street. Featuring photos and memorabilia from Kansas City’s finest bands and a video jukebox for viewing classic jazz performances, the Blue Room pays homage to its jazz heritage by offering live music five nights a week.
The young can try their hand at making their own instruments in the Jazz Discovery area, while the aficionado can listen to selections from over one hundred jazz recordings in Jazz Central, the museum’s musical library.
Collections | The American Jazz Museum’s department of collections & exhibitions specializes in several areas, including the history of the 18th & Vine area, jazz masters, jazz on film, new acquisitions & artifacts for the permanent collections and a variety of changing exhibits tied to the jazz experience and aesthetic. Each of the following spaces has its own unique perspective:
The Changing Gallery | This space showcases both local and national artists, traveling exhibits and other displays of fine art, film, photography & other media inspired by jazz and African-American life, culture & history. -
Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center | Named for one of Kansas City’s experts in African-American history and a key figure in the redevelopment of 18th & Vine and the Black Archives of Mid-America, the Visitors Center includes a variety of artifacts and the film “18th & Vine: A People’s Journey,” which features a brief history of the African-American experience on 18th & Vine and its contributions to the cultural, social and economic development of Kansas City.Album Art | This exhibit showcases the classic album art from many of the greatest jazz recordings, highlighting the unique progression in graphic design & illustration that developed along with the music. “Jazz Is…” Theater | One of the central components of the American Jazz Museum, the film “Jazz Is…” introduces visitors to jazz through film footage and testimonials from several influential musicians.