There is no disputing that the Black community has had a profound impact on the music that defines American culture. From jazz to rock and roll, from hip-hop to the blues, America’s rich musical traditions would not be the same without the enduring contributions of countless talented African-American artists and musicians.
This Black History Month, we are sharing some of the most impactful music museums in the country. Many of these museums are located in historically Black communities, and all of them celebrate the careers of some of the top Black artists in global music history.
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
New York, NY
First on our list is a small but growing jazz museum in New York’s historic Harlem community. This museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of jazz music and its enduring ties to the Harlem area. One of the National Jazz Museum’s strengths is its live programming, which is frequent and free to the public and under the creative direction of Grammy-winners Jon Batiste and Christian McBride. We hope you visit the next time you’re in the Big Apple! Learn more.
Universal Hip Hop Museum
Not far from the National Jazz Museum is the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the historic Bronx, an epicenter of the hip-hop genre. This relatively new museum has already made quite an impact in the New York arts community for its engaging exhibit [R]Evolution of Hip Hop, described as “an immersive journey through Hip Hop History.” Fans of this genre will not want to miss this innovative new museum. Learn more.
The Motown Museum, located in Detroit, is ecstatic to have reopened to visitors this year! Surround yourself with the history of Motown giants like Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, and the Temptations as you take an immersive tour of Hitsville U.S.A. Those unable to visit in person can enjoy their virtual exhibit, the Motortown Revue, online. Learn more.
National Museum of African American Music
Those seeking a multi-genre experience should look no further than the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, the Music City. According to their mission, the NMAAM is “the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans.” Visitors should expect lessons in jazz, groove, and the blues in this immersive exhibit complex, located along Nashville’s historic Broadway music corridor. Learn more.
The New Orleans Jazz Museum
New Orleans, LA
The New Orleans Jazz Museum promises that visitors will experience “Jazz in the very city it was born.” Like the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, the New Orleans Jazz Museum explores jazz in all its forms with a special focus on the musical traditions of New Orleans, a historically black community and a vital center of music and culture in the American South. Visitors will enjoy seeing instruments played by New Orleans-born global phenomenons like Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino while enjoying free daily performances from talented jazz musicians. Learn more.
We encourage you to visit these places and the many other incredible music museums that showcase the great impact the Black community has had on the global musical landscape.
Article by Danielle Maurer
MA Candidate: History and Museum Studies
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