Louisiana Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu has announced $6 million in state and federal funding that will make a world-class Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans a reality.
“I’m honored that the Department of the Interior has named the Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint as one of 100 projects it is funding in the National Park Service Centennial program this year,” said Landrieu. “The Jazz Museum will be a great cultural asset for our community and will showcase Louisiana’s rich history as the birthplace of jazz.”
The Jazz Museum has been a top priority of the Lt. Governor and is part of his overall mission to grow the state’s cultural economy. Landrieu met with Department of the Interior and White House officials in 2007 to convey the state’s commitment to the creation of the Jazz Museum. Working with Louisiana musicians, including Wynton Marsalis, and creating a strong partnership with the National Park Service at Armstrong Park helped to secure Louisiana’s award in the Centennial Challenge.
The funding will be used to transform the 71,000 square-foot Mint into a Jazz Museum through building improvements and exhibition development. The creation of performance space for musicians will allow visitors to understand more fully the influence of jazz on Louisiana’s and the nation’s heritage.
The Mint was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but restoration efforts were completed in October 2007. At the core of the Louisiana State Museum’s Music Collection is its internationally-known Jazz Collection, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the world. The exhibit has been stored since being evacuated from the storm. It will return as an integral part of the Centennial Project. The Jazz Collection chronicles the music and careers of the men and women who created, enhanced and continue the tradition of New Orleans jazz at the local, national and international levels. It consists of instruments, pictorial sheet music, photographs, records, tapes, manuscripts and other items ranging from Louis Armstrong’s first cornet to a 1917 disc of the first jazz recording ever made. It includes the world’s largest collection of instruments owned and played by important figures in jazz – trumpets, cornets, trombones, clarinets and saxophones played by jazz greats such as Bix Beiderbecke, Edward “Kid” Ory, George Lewis, Sidney Bechet, and Dizzy Gillespie.
The Jazz Museum is projected to be completed by 2010.