Smithsonian Affiliate Music Museums

Kate Duffus Stein

Last updated March 14, 2018

The Smithsonian partners with Affiliate museums to facilitate cross-museum collaboration, including exhibitions, object loans, and museum development. Currently, five Smithsonian Affiliates are museums dedicated to music. To learn more about Smithsonian Affiliations programs, see this article by Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, Aaron Glaves.

American Jazz Museum

Kansas City, Missouri

The American Jazz Museum opened in 1997, servings as an anchor to the redevelopment of Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz District. Its exhibitions, education and research programs, and concert series celebrate the worldwide experience of jazz and jazz music as an original American art form. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the museum has showcased music-related exhibitions from the Smithsonian Institution. It has also served as a host site for National Youth Summit events, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS, and other Smithsonian Affiliations museums.

Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum

Memphis, Tennessee

The Memphis Rock 'n Soul Museum is an outgrowth of a 1990 traveling exhibition titled Rock 'N" Soul:  Social Crossroads, which was developed and curated by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  Through digital tours, audiovisual programs, and galleries displaying instruments, costumes, and other musical treasures, the museum now offers a comprehensive Memphis music experience.  It tells the story of American music that originated in Memphis:  from the sounds of rural field hollers and sharecroppers of the 1930s, through the explosion of Sun, Stax and Hi Records and Memphis' musical heyday in the 1970s, to its global musical influence.

Musical Instrument Museum

Phoenix, Arizona

The Musical Instrument Museum collects and makes accessible musical instruments and objects from approximately 200 of the world's countries and territories. State-of-the-art audio and video technologies allow visitors to see the instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original contexts. The museum offers hands-on learning experiences that celebrate the world's diverse cultures, and it works to foster global understanding through music and performance. The museum has collaborated with Smithsonian curators on its exhibitions and currently hosts six instruments on loan from the National Museum of American History, including Artie Shaw’s clarinet.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem

New York, New York

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem is dedicated to promoting jazz as a living, breathing entity that looks as far into the future as it does into the past. Outside of its native New Orleans, no community nurtured jazz more than Harlem. The Museum, currently in development, will pay tribute to the legacy of jazz musicians of the past and also celebrate jazz musicians of today. Currently, the Museum's prolific programs and partnerships bring the vibrancy and legacy of jazz to curious listeners throughout New York City. The Museum partners with the Smithsonian at this stage in their development by offering Smithsonian membership.

National Music Museum

Vermillion, South Dakota

Founded in 1973 on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, the National Music Museum (NMM) is one of the great institutions of its kind in the world. Its renowned collections of American, European, and non-Western instruments from virtually all cultures and historical periods, are the most inclusive anywhere. Spanning 500 years of culture, the NMM’s 15,000+ instruments range from priceless Italian violins to celebrity guitars, from organs to orchestrion, from harps to harpsichords, from dombaks to didgeridoos, from Les Paul to Sgt. Pepper, from Stradivari to Elvis.

Sousa Archives & Center for American Music

The Sousa Archives & Center for American Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign houses unique collections of archival papers, media assets, and artifacts focusing on 20th-century electronic and avant-garde music. As part of the University of Illinois Library and University Archives, the Center makes its collections accessible in support of scholarship and education on campus, especially at the University of Illinois School of Music. The Center regularly features collection pieces from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History as part of American Music Month at the university.