Start your visit with an introduction to the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. Through the moving documentary film "A People’s Journey," visitors are introduced to the everyday heroes in Kansas City’s 18th & Vine neighborhood whose social, cultural and economic contributions profoundly impacted a city and a nation.
As part of our mission and vision, the American Jazz Museum aims to exhibit a collection of artifacts that helps tell the story of jazz's impact in Kansas City, the nation, and the world.
Benny Goodman (1909-1986) was a legendary jazz clarinetist and bandleader. Over the course of his career, Goodman made many contributions to the world of jazz, including leading one of the nation’s first integrated jazz groups and ushering in the Swing Era, earning him the nickname “King of Swing.” These brown suede wingtip shoes were custom made for Goodman by Wildsmith Shoes in London. They were purchased by the museum in 2005 at an auction of jazz artifacts held by Guernsey’s Auction in New York City.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Harold Ashby (1925-2003) was jazz saxophonist and long-time member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Ashby began his jazz career in Kansas City in the 1940s and later moved to Chicago to explore the blues scene of the 1950s. In 1957, Ashby moved to New York to meet up with Ben Webster, another Kansas City native, and began freelancing for bandleaders such as Count Basie and Mercer Ellington, Duke Ellington’s son. By 1968, Ashby was a regular member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and remained with the group until Ellington’s death in 1974. This saxophone, owned by Ashby since the1970s, was purchased from him by the museum in 2000.
Myra Taylor (1917-2011) is one of Kansas City’s jazz legends. Born in Bonner Springs, Kansas, Taylor moved to Kansas City’s 18th & Vine district with her family when she was a young child. As a teenager, Taylor began dancing in jazz clubs along 12th and Vine and eventually began singing as well. By the 1930s, Taylor was touring the country as a vocalist with the Clarence Love Orchestra and Harlan Leonard and His Rockets. Taylor traveled the globe for decades, performing in USO shows during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, and touring with her group The Big Spenders. After returning to the U.S., Taylor settled in California and landed multiple roles in film and television. She returned to Kansas City in the 1990s and graced the Blue Room stage for multiple performances. This sequin gown was worn by Taylor during her time with The Big Spenders.
The Collections Department is happy to facilitate research of American Jazz Museum collections. To inquire about the collection, use of an image, or for help with a current research project, please complete our Research Request Form and send to firstname.lastname@example.org, or a member of the Collections Department team.
The American Jazz Museum actively collects items related to its mission, which is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through performance, exhibition, and research at one of the country’s jazz crossroads – 18th & Vine. To inquire about donating an item to the collection, email us at email@example.com, or call 816-474-4469.
Please note that AJM does not accept donation drop offs without prior communication and approval. For further information on donating items to the collection, please see our Donation FAQ Sheet.