2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


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History of the Jazz Collection

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The New Orleans Jazz Club was founded in 1948 on Mardi Gras by a group of local jazz enthusiasts and musicians, and has been going strong to this day. Almost immediately after it was founded the members began dreaming of opening a Jazz Museum, as many of them were collectors of jazz memorabilia and felt these should be made available to the public. The New Orleans Jazz Museum finally opened its doors in 1961 at 1017 Dumaine Street, and was a success from the start, so much so that it almost immediately began to outgrow the premises. Generous donations began to flood in, and within a few years it became apparent that the cottage on Dumaine Street would not have sufficient space to keep up with the growth of the collection.

At about this time, the Royal Sonesta hotel opened on Bourbon Street, managed by a jazz enthusiast who offered display space on the balcony surrounding Economy Hall, the Hotel's nightclub that featured performances of jazz nightly. The Jazz Museum relocated there in 1969. When the manager, James Nassikas, was transferred to another Sonesta Hotel, the new management had different plans for that space, and in 1973 the Museum was forced to move to its third location at 833 Conti Street. Despite heroic efforts by the board and membership of the New Orleans Jazz Club, it eventually became financially impossible to keep the Museum open, and the collection was put in storage. The collection with its exhibit potential was as strong as ever, but lacked a building to house it. At about this time, the Louisiana State Museum (LSM) was completing renovation of the Old U.S. Mint at the foot of Esplanade Avenue, which it had acquired from the federal government in a rather decrepit state. When repairs were complete, LSM had a grand old building, but lacked a star attraction exhibit to put in it. So on September 15, 1977, the two organizations solved each others' problems when the entire collection of the New Orleans Jazz Museum was donated to the people of Louisiana, and became The New Orleans Jazz Club Collections of the Louisiana State Museum.