Who We Are

About the Museum

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a thriving center for jazz that stimulates hearts and minds, and reaches out to diverse audiences to enjoy this quintessential American music. The Museum was founded in 1997 by Leonard Garment, Counsel to two U.S. Presidents, and an accomplished jazz saxophonist, Abraham D. Sofaer, a former U.S. District Judge who gave the initial gift in honor of his brother-in-law Richard J. Scheuer, Jr., and matching funds from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.

Our mission is to preserve, promote and present jazz by inspiring knowledge, appreciation and the celebration of jazz locally, nationally and internationally.

The Museum is committed to keeping jazz present and exciting in the lives of a broad range of audiences: young and old, novice and scholar, artist and patron, enthusiast and curious listener. From its new location in the center of Harlem, the Museum serves the local community and welcomes visitors from across the U.S. and internationally.

Each year, the Museum produces and presents more than 80 free programs in New York City, engaging hundreds of professional jazz artists and reaching nearly 20,000 people from around the world. The Museum is a hub for live performances, exhibitions and educational programs. It is also home to our widely acclaimed Savory Collection, which includes more than 100 hours of live recordings of jazz legends made from New York City radio broadcasts aired between 1935 and 1941.

In 2013, an exciting new era began for the Museum. We created and implemented a new strategic plan that made education central to our mission. The Museum now offers year-round educational programs for students of all ages. We also developed a new membership program with exclusive content and benefits to reach out to the worldwide jazz community.

In 2015, after 15 years at our East Harlem location, we moved to 58 West 129th Street in Central Harlem. Our new space is designed to give our visitors an immersive jazz experience, in the heart of what has become Harlem’s new cultural and entertainment district.

Our ultimate, long-term goal is to secure a permanent home in Harlem with space large enough to showcase Harlem’s vast contributions to jazz, American music and world culture.

 

Co-Artistic Director, Christian McBride

Bassist/bandleader Christian McBride joined the museum in 2005, and has contributed mightily through his steadfast presence in our programs, as an international ambassador, and in helping conceive new directions for the organization to take as it evolves through its second decade.

Co-Artistic Director, Jonathan Batiste 

Jonathan Batiste is a pianist/bandleader who has been increasingly active in the museum’s programming and growth. By virtue of his age and the wide spectrum of musical genres he represents, Mr. Batiste is growing into an ever-expanding role in the museum’s future and is currently the Musical Director of the Late Show with Steven Colbert.

Founding Director and Senior Scholar, Loren Schoenberg
Saxophonist/conductor Loren Schoenberg opened the museum’s offices in Harlem in 2002 and served for 10 years as its Executive Director, creating the museum’s programs and structure.