Children’s Museum Of Manhattan And The National Jazz Museum In Harlem
Announce The Opening Of
“Jazzed! The Changing Beat Of 125th Street”
May 23 – December 31, 2014
New Interactive Exhibit Features Daily Live Jazz Performances and
Hands-on Music Education Workshops to Teach Families about Jazz Legends and the Vibrant Jazz Culture of New York City
New York, NY – March 4, 2014 – The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), in partnership with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH), today announced the opening of Jazzed! The Changing Beat of 125th Street, a new interactive exhibit at CMOM (212 West 83rd Street) that celebrates the rich history and lasting legacy of jazz during the Harlem Renaissance. The multimedia exhibition, featuring daily live performances and workshops as well as rarely seen images, archival footage and original jazz artifacts, will run from May 23 through December 31, 2014.
Funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency, the 1,500-square-foot exhibit focuses around three iconic figures from the time period: bandleader and composer Duke Ellington, vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The lives of other jazz icons, including female greats like Billie Holiday and Mary Lou Williams, will be highlighted as well.
The exhibit is the latest iteration of CMOM’s ongoing focus on the “Arts and Creativity,” designed to bring original art and live performances to families. The exhibition explores the
unrivaled artistic achievements of the jazz culture in Harlem during the famed Harlem Renaissance (1920’s–1940’s), a defining period of musical, theatrical, literary and cultural creativity, innovation and activity among African-Americans, with Harlem as its epicenter. Music and movement stations, live performances by professional and student musicians, video kiosks featuring original films and objects from that period, including instruments, will transport visitors back in time to Harlem during the height of the Harlem Renaissance.
“Jazz is truly a New York City story,” said CMOM’s executive director Andrew Ackerman, “and we’re honored to be partnering with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem to introduce children to this multifaceted musical genre, many perhaps for the first time. The exhibit will provide a unique opportunity for families to learn about this vital period in our city’s cultural history, develop music literacy and interact with local jazz musicians, artists and dancers.”
“This is a magical opportunity for us at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem to share ideas with one of the most popular and respected museums in New York City,” said NJMH’s artistic director Loren Schoenberg. “It’s a joy to tell the story of Harlem’s great figures to young people and their parents in such an interactive presentation. We’re looking forward to this exhibit as just the beginning of a fruitful partnership.”
The exhibition consists of three major sections: a jazz club, theater and ballroom that are small simulations of originals from the Harlem Renaissance. Upon entering the intimate “jazz club,” families can listen to the warm sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, a singer whose impeccable technique and sweet-natured voice brought hope and reassurance to a generation of listeners. Kids are invited to sing their own song at a 1930’s-style microphone. Through photos and audio footage, families can also explore how Fitzgerald, as an African American woman during that time, broke social barriers as well as launched a new vocal style.
The “theater” features Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, one of the most famous tap dancers of the 20th century, and his ability to make a statement through the art form. After watching a video of Robinson’s Stair Dance, first made popular while Robinson was performing at New York City’s Palace Theater in 1921, children will be encouraged to move to their own beat on a small staircase, framed by plush, red curtains. An accompanying workshop will allow them to make their own tap shoes. Behind them will be projections of Robinson’s shadow demonstrating the jazz icon’s various positions and light and exacting footwork during his signature routine.
After hopping off-stage, families will find themselves immersed in the world of Duke Ellington and his famous jazz orchestra. In the “ballroom,” families can isolate the sounds of different instruments, including the trumpet, trombone, clarinet and saxophone, in one of Ellington’s most famous compositions and then press a button to hear the piece in full. The ballroom also includes an upright piano to be used for live musical performances by young local jazz pianists through the exhibit’s run.
The last stop along the exhibit will be a colorful timeline that connects the featured artists with the history of Harlem’s 125th Street and the influence that jazz has had over generations of music and innovation.
Additionally, a combination of daily live piano presentations by young musicians and weekly live performances by leading jazz artists and dance companies will allow families to experience how this multi-faceted artistic genre continues to influence culture today. The NJMH’s All-Star Band will kick off the concert series with a special performance during opening weekend (May 24-25).
In the center of the gallery, families will participate in hands-on art and music-making workshops at child-sized, instrument-shaped tables. Program highlights include constructing Big Band era-style musical instruments and using authentic sheet music from the Harlem Renaissance to create original scores. Daily music demos will encourage children to experiment with sound, think like a composer, examine musical instruments and learn dance routines.
About Children’s Museum of Manhattan
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) is the vibrant home to 350,000 visitors a year from all segments of the NYC community and tourists from around the world. The museum’s educational mission in early childhood education, creativity, health and culture thrives within our home on 83rd Street and in dozens of communities across the city as well as through national initiatives with leading authorities and government agencies. Child development is at the core of CMOM’s values and mission and our vision is to be the bridge that connects children and adults in the community, school and home in order to prepare our children for the global world in which they live. For details regarding all of CMOM’s programs and initiatives, please visit www.cmom.org.
About National Jazz Museum in Harlem
The mission of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH) is to preserve, promote and present jazz by inspiring knowledge, appreciation and celebration of jazz locally, nationally, and internationally. The NJMH is committed to keeping jazz relevant and exciting in the lives of a diverse range of audiences: young and old, novice and scholar, artist and patron, enthusiast and curious listener. The NJMH engages its audiences through live performances, exhibitions, educational workshops, and its newsworthy archival collection of jazz artifacts