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Mary6170

Kansas City Jazz Museum in Trouble

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I lived in KC from 1994-2011, and visited the museum once or twice early on, and again about 3 years ago circa 2015.

I don't think there have been many (if any) updates to any(!) of the exhibition content in the last 15 years.

And to be honest, iirc about 50% of the somewhat paultry displays were devoted to about half a dozen big name artists (literally 6 big names), and the rest was all pretty generalized stuff.

I always felt like the museum was sorely lacking in content, and certainly did nothing to encourage repeat visits.

It was a halfway ok start - sort of a junior-level museum - when it first opened. But it's been nearly static ever since.

I can't comment on how it was run, or any insider stuff, but I've always heard it was badly managed in a dozen or more ways.

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When I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville in 2016, I was stunned at how it was a universe better than the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City.

The museum in Kansas City does not try to present the history of Kansas City jazz. Instead, it has a hodge podge of exhibits about a few great jazz figures, and a limited number of interesting single items related to other great jazz figures--most not related to Kansas City jazz.

So it fails as a Kansas City jazz presentation, and also fails as any type of comprehensive presentation of jazz generally.

It started out with listening stations and interactive audio features, most of which no longer work, and which are severely dated for what is available now with technology.

The Blues Museum in St. Louis opened a few years ago. It is not very large but it is much better in every way, than this jazz museum in Kansas City.

 

 

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I've heard so many bad reviews of it, I've never visited in my MANY trips to KC (at least twice, annually). 

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I live in KC and have not been in years.  My impressions are similar to those above.  Not even remotely close to the country music hall of fame in Nashville.

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I visited the K.C Jazz Museum this past summer while traveling from Tucson,AZ to Chicago and then back to Tucson.

It was very disappointing. While there were a few interesting exhibits, the museum looked as if lacked upkeep and any updating. I suspect lack of funds was a major factor.

On this lengthy driving trip my wife and I visited roughly 20 museums in many cities. Though I had been very much looking forward to the K.C. Jazz Museum, it was probably one of the 2 or 3  least enjoyable of all we visited.

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Such great potential because of all the connections to KC but I think its a tough pull for any organization almost anywhere to attract crowds to a jazz museum.  At least the city seems aware of the problems and is interested in solutions. 

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I'm trying to remember the 6 musicians they have focus areas on.

Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald: I'm pretty positive are four of them. Any of my fellow KC folks remember the last two? (I'm drawing a blank, beyond informed guesses.)

I'm pretty positive it's *not* BOTH Miles & Trane, iirc.  (But Miles might be one of them, though just as easily not.)

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2 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

I'm trying to remember the 6 musicians they have focus areas on.

Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald: I'm pretty positive are four of them. Any of my fellow KC folks remember the last two? (I'm drawing a blank, beyond informed guesses.)

I'm pretty positive it's *not* BOTH Miles & Trane, iirc.  (But Miles might be one of them, though just as easily not.)

It is just those four musicians. . Then someone bought some odds and ends at a big jazz auction once--an Ornette Coleman notebook, Benny Goodman's hat and band logbook, some other individual items from various famous musicians, which were displayed together in a separate small room when they were first purchased.

I attended a concert by the Sun Ra Arkestra headed by Marshall Allen in the Gem Theater across the street, in the late 1990s. Marshall Allen presented onstage, to the first director of the museum, one of Sun Ra's colorful robes that he had worn onstage. The first museum director thanked Marshall Allen onstage and took it. I have never seen the Sun Ra stage costume displayed at the museum. I wonder if it is in storage there?

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Jeez, it really is just those four (4) -- and no Miles nor Trane.  I guess I was remembering six (6), because I must have always THOUGHT there should have been those particular two more (they'd never do one for Ornette, arguably the 7th I'd think worthy of similar treatment) -- but it's a crime that Miles Davis, of all people, has such minimum representation in what purports to be 'The' American Museum of Jazz.  (And Trane too, for that matter.)  Nothing about the history of labels, or much on various regional variations (I don't really remember anything about West Coast jazz, for instance).  Everything is scattershot, and pretty thin.

One other thought:  the level of depth (overall) in KC's jazz museum pales in comparison to even the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum -- which is housed in the same complex.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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1 hour ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Jeez, it really is just those four (4) -- and no Miles nor Trane.  I guess I was remembering six (6), because I must have always THOUGHT there should have been those particular two more (they'd never do one for Ornette, arguably the 7th I'd think worthy of similar treatment) -- but it's a crime that Miles Davis, of all people, has such minimum representation in what purports to be 'The' American Museum of Jazz.  (And Trane too, for that matter.)  Nothing about the history of labels, or much on various regional variations (I don't really remember anything about West Coast jazz, for instance).  Everything is scattershot, and pretty thing.

One other thought:  the level of depth (overall) in KC's jazz museum pales in comparison to even the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum -- which is housed in the same complex.

It has been noted in the Kansas City press this week that the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is doing quite well, in the adjacent space from the jazz museum.

The exhibits in the Jazz Museum are very hit and miss, with no theme, and no attempt to be comprehensive about anything. No one should be surprised if any particular jazz great is not included.

The overall impression I have always had from this Jazz Museum is that the people running it do not know anything about jazz.

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