New Orleans Jazz Museum at the old US Mint

Located in a historic building that was once home to the New Orleans branch of the United States Mint, the New Orleans Jazz Museum houses over 25,000 fascinating artifacts that include instruments, records, memorabilia, photographs, and more. Visitors may also enjoy numerous rotating special exhibits here on a wide variety of jazz-related topics, and the museum is the site of hundreds of live concerts each and every year.

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New Orleans Jazz Museum

In 1835, the city of New Orleans was named the site of one of three United States Mints. The architect William Strickland, a student of the legendary Benjamin Latrobe, was chosen to design this new Mint building. His plan for a red-brick structure in the Greek Revival style was realized in 1838, when the Mint began operations. It would serve in this capacity until the Civil War broke out, and then again between the years 1879 and 1909.

The building would see many uses after its decommissioning as a U.S. Mint in 1909, functioning at various times as a Treasury Department office, Coast Guard storage space, and federal prison, to name but a few roles it played during the middle decades of the twentieth century. The state of Louisiana took control of the site in the 1960s, and it was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975. Today it stands as one of the branches of the Louisiana State Museum and is the proud home of the acclaimed New Orleans Jazz Museum.

What’s at New Orleans Jazz Museum

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is said to be home to the world’s largest collection of jazz-related artifacts found anywhere in the world. Its permanent collection contains roughly 25,000 distinct items. Among the highlights on display here are the first cornet ever owned by Louis Armstrong and a 1917 disc believed to be the first jazz recording in existence.

Here fans of jazz will also find such treasures as 12,000 photographs of classic jazz performers and venues, 10,000 recordings of classic jazz tunes in a variety of formats, 2,000 pieces of sheet music, and an assortment of jazz-centric films, books, paintings, prints, and more.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum also hosts rotating special exhibits. Given the nature of these temporary shows, what you’ll encounter during your visit can vary greatly. Having said that, recent special exhibits have covered such diverse topics as the photography of Polo Silk, the paintings of James Michalopoulos, and the history of the New Orleans Beat.

Of course, no visit to the New Orleans Jazz Museum would truly be complete without taking in some live music. Fortunately, the New Orleans Jazz Museum hosts hundreds of concerts and over a dozen festivals each year throughout its multiple performance spaces. The museum’s official website is the best place to go for a calendar of events that’ll have all the information about who’s playing and when.

Tips for Visiting the New Orleans Jazz Museum

  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm. It’s closed on Mondays.
  • Children under the age of six years old are admitted free of charge.
  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum is an accessible space. Its Barracks Street entrance is the best entrance for those visitors with accessibility concerns.
  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum maintains an active social media presence, and following it on one or more of these platforms can be a great way to stay up to date on the latest information regarding live concerts, special exhibits, and more.