Charlie Parker's Grafton saxophone, Louis Armstrong's trumpet, a sequined gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald?at the American Jazz Museum, each of these artifacts represents a mark on a musical timeline. Established in 1997 at 18th and Vine, the museum immerses guests in jazz via several mediums: films, sheet music, album covers, and concert posters, to name a few. Listening stations emit interviews and samples of classic tunes, but to hear entire songs, you can visit Jazz Central, the in-house musical library of more than 100 recordings.
Preserving the jazz stylings of the past is not the museum's only mission, however. At mixing boards, visitors can create their own melodies without bringing their stand-up bass from home. As for live jazz, there are more than 200 yearly performances and events at the museum, such as the annual Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival. There's also the Blue Room?a smoke-free jazz club inside the building itself, where musicians play at least four nights a week.