While New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz music, pioneers like Louis Armstrong helped bring this uniquely American art form to the bright lights of New York City. We have more than a few jazz lovers on our Queens personal injury team, and a few of us decided to check out the famous Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens over the weekend. The experience was a real treat, as our tour guide painted a full picture of the legendary trumpeter’s life while we walked through the place he called home for the final three decades of his life. If you’re a jazz lover yourself and looking for some educational entertainment during your next visit to Queens, the Louis Armstrong House is a must-see attraction.
We took the time to visit several fascinating collections during our trip to the museum, and have summarized some of our favorites below:
The Louis Armstrong Collection
The crown jewel of the museum – the Louis Armstrong Collection is Louis and his wife Lucille’s personal collection of 1,600 recordings, 650 home-recorded reel-to-reel tapes in hand-decorated boxes, 86 scrapbooks, 5,000 photographs, 270 sets of band parts, 12 linear feet of papers, letters, and manuscripts, five trumpets, 14 mouthpieces, 120 awards and plaques, and more. You could kill a whole day just looking through this collection alone. An exhilarating experience for any fan of jazz and history.
The Satchmo Collection
Friends, fans, and collectors have worked together to donate various Armstrong-related materials to the museum’s Satchmo Collection. This exhibit is full of impressive historical memorabilia, including a 1934 Selmer trumpet and mouthpiece gifted to Louis by King George V of England, a cornet case autographed by Louis, and two scrapbooks compiled by longtime Armstrong bassist Arvell Shaw.
Institutional History Collection
The Institutional History Collection outlines the history of the Armstrong House and Armstrong Archives, which opened in 1986. This collection features videos of musical performances, photographs of celebrity and VIP visitors, photographs of past exhibitions, media coverage, awards, and more. This exhibit is continuously expanded as the history of the Armstrong House Museum continues to grow.
The Jack Bradley Collection
Jack Bradley was one of Louis Armstrong’s closest friends and his personal photographer. The Jack Bradley Collection is considered the most extensive private collection of Armstrong memorabilia and was compiled over several decades. You can find nearly every single commercially released Louis recording and thousands of photographs, films, periodicals, personal items, letters, and more.
The Phoebe Jacobs Collection
Phoebe Jacobs worked as a music manager, press officer, and music organizer for many of the greats of jazz’s golden era – including the Armstrongs. She was best known as the co-founder of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. Her collection contains ten cubic feet of memorabilia from her relationship with the Armstrongs in the 1970s and 1980s, including personal papers, correspondence, photographs, and other various objects related to her role as Executive Vice President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.
Winfried Maier Collection
Winfried Maier was a German fan of Armstrong, who met Louis in Berlin in 1959. The two became friends and frequently exchanged correspondence. They also spent time together when Armstrong visited Germany on future trips and tours. Maier spent decades collecting various materials related to Armstrong’s German tours from 1952-1965 and donated the entire collection to the House in 2015.