JAM at the Museum

About | Programs and Displays

About JAM at the Museum

As the home of Jazz Appreciation Month, every April the National Museum of American History presents a cadre of programs and jazz displays around the museum for local or visiting jazz fans. In addition, there are always a host of jazz objects – instruments, artwork, and pieces – from the museum’s collections on view around the museum. Join us for a concert, check out a display, or join us each Tuesday as we pull rarely-seen jazz objects and archives out of the museum's collections.


JAM 2017: Program Calendar

Looking for things to do in D.C. this April relating to jazz? Come into the museum for live music, rarely-seen objects from the collections, and a new display. All programs and displays are free unless otherwise noted.


Display: First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100
On view starting April 1, 2017
Archives Center, 1 West

One of America’s most accomplished singers, Ella Fitzgerald (1917–1996) was an American artist who set a new standard for jazz vocalists. She sang her way to the top of a field dominated and controlled almost completely by men. See awards, letters, sheet music and costumes from her archives as well as videos of her performances. This display will open to the public on April 1.


Live music: Donato Soviero and Michael Bowie at the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Cafe
Friday, March 31, 2:30 – 3 p.m.
LeRoy Neiman Jazz Cafe, 1 Center

Catch free jazz celebrating the titans of jazz depicted in LeRoy Neiman's "Big Band" painting, right in front of the masterpiece itself! Catch guitarist Donato Soviero and bassist Michael Bowie for a free afternoon performance in the museum's Jazz Cafe on the first floor. 


Live music: Women in Jazz – The Influence of Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, and Lil Hardin Armstrong
Friday, March 31, 7:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West
Tickets required: http://s.si.edu/2kHmENz

Oftentimes overlooked, women have been making vital contributions to jazz throughout its history. Beyond the traditional female vocalist, there are also many great female composers, arrangers, orchestrators, and instrumentalists who have contributed to the music form. Join us for a special evening that will begin with three jazz icons—Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, and Lil Hardin Armstrong—to explore their lasting influence and other women in jazz through modern day. The evening will also include a special viewing of the museum’s new display, First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100, to celebrate Ella’s centennial. Tickets on sale here.


Program: Smithsonian Jazz Objects Out of Storage
Tuesday, April 4, 11, 18, 25 from 1 – 3 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Plaza, 1 West

Love jazz? Love history? Join us at the museum as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month this April! Every Tuesday in April, Smithsonian Jazz at the National Museum of American History will present rarely-seen jazz objects, instruments, and archives from the museum’s collections for the public to view for free. See below for the schedule:


Performance: Jazz Appreciation Month Daytime Concerts
Thursday, April 6, 13, 20, 27 at 12, 1, and 2 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Plaza, 1 West

Catch free live jazz performances at the museum every Thursday in April. Featuring three performances each Thursday, visitors can enjoy jazz performed by local musicians and universities celebrating the role of women in jazz.


Performance: Jazz Piano in LeFrak Lobby
April 24, 25, 26, and 28 at 12 p.m.
LeFrak Lobby, 1 Center

Jazz up your afternoon with free live jazz piano performances in the museum's LeFrak Lobby. Featuring a free performance at noon over the last week of April, visitors can take a break and enjoy jazz played by talented, local pianists. This program is in partnership with Blues Alley Jazz Society and the American Federation of Musicians Local 161-710. 

  • April 24: Tony Nalker featuring vocalist Gerri Morrison
  • April 25: Bob Boguslaw featuring vocalist Mary Boguslaw
  • April 26: Harry Appelman featuring vocalist Christiana Drapkin
  • April 28: Stef Scaggiari 


Program: Cooking Up History - The Food of Jazz
Friday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West

What is the relationship between food, jazz, and American history? In the late 19th and early 20th century, jazz spread into American life, blending many influences and finding distinct forms in each community it was played, from New Orleans to Harlem to Kansas City. We will be joined by guest chef Rock Harper, who will prepare a few dishes from America’s leading jazz communities, as we explore how each city produced unique culinary creations to feed both musicians and their audiences, and discuss how the foods that fed jazz are as improvisational, innovative, and rooted in tradition as the music itself. Learn more about Cooking Up History here.


Jazz Appreciation Month is made possible through generous support from:

The LeRoy Neiman Foundation

The Argus Fund

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation

Goldman Sachs

The John Hammond Performance Series Endowment Fund