The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
58 West 129th Street, Ground Floor
New York, NY 10027
Suggested donation of $10.00 but whatever you can give.
Founded in 1997
Transportation: Subway 2 or 3 to 125th Street and then walk up to 129th Street
I came across this little museum when I was touring Central Harlem. This museum is more like a small gallery and it is dedicated to the history of jazz in Harlem. The front section is set up like someone in Harlem’s salon with furniture from the era and sheet music from the artists. The look is based on ‘Rent Parties’ that people used to have to bring their friends over to help pay the monthly rent. The back section of the museum is dedicated to jazz and related music with a sitting area and pictures all over the wall of different era’s including the new artists of today. Jazz music plays throughout.
The Mission of the Museum:
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a Smithsonian Affiliate, preserves, promotes and presents jazz by inspiring knowledge, appreciation and celebration of jazz locally, nationally and internationally.
It is the thriving center for jazz that stimulates hearts and minds and reaches out to diverse audiences to enjoy this quintessential American music. The museum was founded in 1997 by Leonard Garment, Counsel to two U.S. Presidents and an accomplished jazz saxophonist, Abraham D. Sofaer, a former U.S. District Judge, who gave the initial gift in honor of his brother in law, Richard J. Scheuer and matching funds from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.
The Museum is committed to keeping jazz present and exciting in the lives of a broad range of audiences: young and old, novice and scholar, artist and patron, enthusiast and curious listener. From its new location in the center of Harlem, the Museum serves the local community and welcomes visitors from across the U.S. and internationally.
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s vision is to establish a permanent home in Harlem for collections, programs and performances that stimulate creativity and excitement about the past, present and future of jazz and its artists (The Jazz Museum in Harlem vision statement-pamphlet).
In 2013, an exciting new era began for the Museum. We created and implemented a new strategic plan that made education central to our mission. The Museum now offers year-round educational programs for students of all ages. We also developed a new membership program with exclusive content and benefits to reach out to the worldwide jazz community.
In 2015, after 15 years at the East Harlem location, we moved to 58 West 129th Street in Central Harlem. Our new space is designed to give our visitors an immersive jazz experience, in the heart of what has become Harlem’s new cultural and entertainment district. The ultimate, long-term goal is to secure a permanent home in Harlem with space enough to showcase Harlem’s vast contributions to jazz, American music and world history.
Each year, the Museum produces and presents more than 80 free programs in New York City, engaging hundreds of professional jazz artists and reaching nearly 20,000 people from around the world. The Museum is a hub for live performances, exhibitions and educational programs. It is also home to our widely acclaimed Savory Collection, which includes more than 100 hours of live recordings of jazz legends made from New York City radio broadcasts aired between 1935 and 1941 (Wiki site and Museum website).
The current exhibition is Vi*bra*tion: The history of Jazz from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis: Their Work and Harlem Air Shaft (large musical manuscripts on the wall).
The Leadership of the Museum is under musicians Jonathan Batiste, Co-Artistic Director and Christian McBride, Co-Artistic Director.