The Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York has announced the official opening date of its new building, an expansion that further preserves the legacy of the jazz legend.
The new Louis Armstrong Center will open on Thursday, July 6.
Designed by Caples Jefferson Architects and built across the street from Armstrong’s former home, the building will be a permanent home for the 60,000-piece Louis Armstrong Archive — the world’s largest for a jazz musician — and will also house a 75-seat venue offering performances, lectures, films, and educational experiences.
It opens with Here to Stay, an exhibition curated by award-winning pianist and composer Jason Moran.
“This is a landmark moment for the Louis Armstrong House Museum,” said executive director Regina Bain. “Standing on the shoulders of the jazz and community greats who have come before us, the new Louis Armstrong Center invites today’s musicians, neighbours, and global fans to discover Louis and Lucille Armstrong’s story from a new perspective. We will bring the Armstrongs’ unique archives alive through new interactive events. And we will ensure that music once again rings out on 107th Street through groundbreaking programs in collaboration with emerging artists and contemporary icons.”
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is located in the Corona neighbourhood of New York’s Queens borough. It was the home of Armstrong and his wife from 1943 until his death in 1971. Lucille gave ownership of it to the city of New York in order to create the museum.
The opening of the new Louis Armstrong Center will be accompanied by new programming, including the upcoming season of Armstrong Now, a series of works inspired by Armstrong’s legacy. The new season will feature the creation and debut of new works by Esperanza Spalding, Amyra León and Antonio Brown.
The Museum also recently launched an outreach program providing trumpet lessons at local schools, made possible by a donation of musical instruments from Ken Karnofsky, a descendant of the same family who helped Armstrong buy his first instrument.
The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation donated the Armstrong archives in the 1980s and provided the funds to purchase the lot on which the new building sits. The City University of New York and Queens College officials, working with state and city legislators and executive offices, led the advocacy for the funding of the $26-million building across the street from the original Armstrong home. Funds were awarded by the Office of the Governor, the New York State Senate, New York State Assembly, Office of the New York City Mayor, Office of the Queens Borough President, and the New York City Council. The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) led the construction project.