Located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, MO, the American Jazz Museum showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, The Blue Room, and Gem Theater. Since its inception in September 1997, the Museum hosts thousands of students, scholars, musicians and fans of the arts for over 200 performances, education programs, special exhibitions, community events and more each year, providing an opportunity to learn about the legends, honor their legacy, or simply enjoy the sounds of modern day jazz.
25 years ago today, the American Jazz Museum opened its doors on September 5, 1997. Originally named the Kansas City Jazz Museum, KCMO Mayor Emanuel Cleaver II, the museum’s Executive Director Dr. Rowena Stewart, and community members planned a noteworthy three-day celebration.
18th Street was blanketed in a sea of red carpet. The inaugural event featured the best of area and national talent including Billy Dee Williams, George Duke, his niece Dianne Reeves, Harry Belafonte, and Al Jarreau. Megastars including Tony Bennett, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, and Pat Metheny also took to the Gem Theater stage.
For 25 years, the American Jazz Museum has opened its doors to hundreds of thousands of visitors, championing the impact that jazz has on our everyday lives and the enduring possibility to learn more about ourselves and each other through each artifact, program, and performance.
The mission of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through performance, exhibition, education, and research at one of the country's jazz crossroads – 18th & Vine.
The American Jazz Museum is dedicated to public service and collaborative efforts to expand the influence, awareness and appreciation of jazz among the widest demographic of people across the Kansas City region, as well as among those based in various locations worldwide.
Since the birth of America’s only indigenous art form and its journey across the globe, certain cities have put distinctive stamps in its sound, history and development. Kansas City is one of the greatest purveyors of jazz – and it continues to offer fertile ground for the music to thrive.
The American Jazz Museum is proud to present the Kansas City Jazz Academy, providing excellent jazz instruction for middle and high school students beyond a traditional public/private school music program.