New Orleans Jazz Museum | A Musical Trip Through History

This post will help you plan a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

In addition to details such as open hours and ticket prices, we also discuss the best times to visit, what to expect when you arrive, and some of the exhibits you’ll find at this historic location.

 


PLAN YOUR VISIT

This section provides information about how to get here, the best times to visit, how much time to set aside for your trip, and what to expect.

Best Times to Visit

Although there are times when this museum can get a little busy, most visitors indicate that this location almost never gets too crowded.

That being said, you may still want to consider a trip during quieter times. Here are the operational hours for this attraction.

New Orleans Jazz Museum

  • Tuesday – Sunday  10 am – 4:30 pm
  • Closed on Monday

 

Best Times to Visit New Orleans Jazz Museum

 

If you want to avoid any and all crowds, it will be important to consider a weekday trip to this museum.

From Tuesday – Thursday, there are usually very few people visiting this location.

 

 

During weekdays, you will probably be able to visit pretty much anytime without running into any significant crowds.

At most, you might notice a few more people from the hours of 12 pm – 2 pm.

On weekends, you can expect more visitors than usual during those hours.

As a result, you may want to consider coming between the hours of 10 am – 12 pm or 3 pm – 4:30 pm.

TIP: One of the best times to visit is on Tuesday at 2 pm. Every week at this time, there is a live performance held on the third floor of the museum.

This performance is free for all customers and it’s a great way to either end or to begin your trip to the museum. 


What to Expect

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a somewhat large building, but it’s not too difficult to experience most of what they have to offer while you’re here.

As a matter of fact, a majority of visitors will spend around 2 hours here. 

 

US Jazz Museum New Orleans

 

In addition to their free performances on Tuesday, the New Orleans Jazz Museum also hosts several events throughout the week.

Most of these events are offered later in the week or during the weekend, and artists/performers tend to change frequently.

With that in mind, we recommend checking their event calendar for more details on these opportunities.

Considering that New Orleans has been the home of many Jazz legends, it probably won’t come as a surprise that this museum houses several notable artifacts and instruments.

You can expect to see historical items related to famous musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Bechet, George Lewis, and many more.

For more details, check our exhibit details section below.

When it comes to security, you can expect a pretty relaxed atmosphere. One visitor even noted that when they arrived, a security guard was actually playing on the piano.

That being said, we recommend being very careful when taking photos and bringing in items that would typically be prohibited at most museums.

Handicapped visitors will be glad to know that the building is wheelchair accessible.

If you call ahead and let them know that you plan to drop by, they will do their best to make additional accommodations whenever possible. 


How to get here

Use this map for specific directions to the museum. 

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a stop on our guided tour of the French Quarter as well as our audio tour and our self-guided tour, so let us take you there.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is located near the heart of the French Quarter, just a few blocks from both the French Market and Frenchmen Street.

Depending on where your hotel is located, you may also want to just walk here. 

 

Where is the New Orleans Jazz Museum

 

Another way to get here is via the streetcar because the French Market stop (Riverfront Line) is literally right across the street.

For more details on this option, read our post about using the streetcar in New Orleans.

Alternatively, you can also take the bus to the stop at Decatur & Barracks Street which services #5 and #55.

Hop-on-hop-off bus tours also provide a stop at the museum. Learn more about this option by reading our post on New Orleans bus tours

 


Back to top


 

TICKET INFORMATION

The Louisiana State Museum charges an admission fee to enter the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Funds are used to pay for both the upkeep of this historic location and its protection.


TIP: Admission to this location is included with the New Orleans Power Pass. Visitors who are planning to see a lot of historic places in the city might want to consider using this service to make things easier. 


Ticket Prices (as of 2020)

AAA Members receive a 10% discount. Groups of 15+ receive 20% off and school groups enter for free.

Louisiana State Museum has several locations in the area that you can combine with the New Orleans Jazz Museum to get a 20% discount on admission.

Consider purchasing tickets to the following locations for a better deal:

TIP: If you visit on a Tuesday, your ticket will include access to a free live musical performance on the third floor of the museum at 2 pm. This is a great way to get additional value out of your admission. 

 


Back to top


 

EXHIBIT INFORMATION

There are a lot of interactive exhibits and things to see at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, but some attractions are more notable than others.

Here are just a few of the exhibitions you might want to see while visiting the historic site.

Herman Leonard: Documenting the Giants of Jazz

Herman Leonard

We’ve all seen those incredible photographs of musicians playing saxophones in a dimly lit room with a waft of smoke coming from a cigarette somewhere in the room, but who took those memorable shots?

Well, Herman Leonard was at least one notable photographer who was responsible for the way we see jazz artists today, and the museum has devoted an entire exhibit to his work.

This area is loaded with iconic photos of jazz legends which were taken by Leonard. Get an idea with this video.


Pete Fountain: A Life Half-Fast

Pete Foundatin

This exhibit focuses on the jazz legend Pete Fountain, a notable clarinetist who contributed much to the music and culture of New Orleans.

In addition to performing on popular television shows such as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he also had a club on Bourbon Street which remained a staple of the jazz scene for over 50 years. 

See photos and artifacts from throughout both his career and his life revealing his influence on jazz and the city he called home.  Here is the exhibit’s promo video


Women of Note

A lot of the most notable jazz musicians were men, but that doesn’t mean women never factored into the history of this genre.

New Orleans Jazz Museum has an exhibit detailing many of the ways in which women played a significant role in making this music happen.

The gallery includes historic instruments, photographs, recordings and other artifacts made possible by female artists and musicians who loved jazz just as much as their male counterparts.

Here’s the promo video


Jazz Collection

In addition to all of their highly focused exhibits, the museum also has an extensive collection of memorabilia from throughout the history of jazz.

This collection includes items such as the first jazz recording ever made and Louis Armstrong’s first cornet he ever played.

You’ll also find several first edition prints of sheet music and over 10,000 jazz recordings across several different formats.

There’s so much to experience that it’ll make your head spin! If you want an idea of what to expect, check out their digital library.


Performance Venue

Visitors may also have the opportunity to experience a live jazz performance at their venue on the third floor.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum provides a free show every Tuesday at 2 pm, but they also offer several other performances throughout the year (typically on the weekend).

Check their event calendar for an up-to-date list of their shows, and check our events section for more details on annual happenings. 


Old U.S. Mint Coin Exhibition

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is located on the historic site of the Old U.S. Mint, so it’s only appropriate to have at least one exhibit about the building and how it was once used.

This gallery includes historic Confederate coins and other artifacts from the 1800s revealing a side of New Orleans history that is rarely seen.

Even if you’re not a jazz fan, this is a historically relevant exhibition that you might want to check out!

 


Back to top


 

NOTABLE EVENTS

There are several events and performances which take place at the New Orleans Jazz Museum throughout the year.

While some activities are annual, others take place once a week. This section will focus on a few of the more popular times to visit the museum.


Free Tuesday Concerts

A local jazz band performs a free concert at the New Orleans Jazz Museum every Tuesday at 2 pm.

All you need to do is drop in at the right time and grab a seat to experience this 60-minute show every week.

There are usually several additional free shows at the museum throughout any given month, but some of them will come with a price tag. Make sure to check their events calendar.


New Orleans Ragtime Festival

Ragtime music is some of the most important and influential to jazz, so it makes perfect sense that the New Orleans Jazz Museum would play host to a festival honoring the genre.

This event typically takes place in April, and it will include several musical performances throughout the day.

Tickets for this show are usually free, but they must be reserved ahead of time.


International Jazz Day

In celebration of this wonderful day, the New Orleans Jazz Museum will open its doors to all visitors for free from the hours of 10 am – 4:30 pm.

Several events will typically be held on this day, including free live performances, presentations about the collection at this museum, and even awards honoring notable jazz musicians.


Record Raid

On this special day, the museum hosts a record sale allowing several vendors to share their love of music with visitors.

Although the focus is on vinyl records, there are usually also CDs, tapes and more being sold during this event.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or you’re just getting into the format, this is a great way to expand your collection.


Downriver Fest

This festival encompasses several events taking place in New Orleans at the end of summer, but the Jazz Museum contributes by providing music and serving as the last stop of a second line.

The performers on hand may change every year, so make sure to check their event calendar during September for more details.


Satchmo Summer Fest

This is one of the most popular events of the year, and it takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

In addition to hosting the festival and giving local musicians a chance to perform, the museum also provides kids with a playhouse for kids which is found inside the Old U.S. Mint.

Named after Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, this summer festival is all about honoring his music and contributions to jazz.

For more details, make sure to visit our things to do in New Orleans in August post. 

 


Back to top


 

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is conveniently located very close to several noteworthy and popular sites in the French Quarter.

This section will provide details about a handful of nearby attractions you may want to visit while you’re in the area.

Frenchmen Street

Located just north of the New Orleans Jazz Museum, this street is chock full of bars and music venues that specialize in offering jazz performances almost every night of the week.

In addition to these hot spots, you’ll also find the Palace Market – an art market with a rotating collection of artwork both on display and available for sale.

For more details, check out our post about Frenchmen Street. Alternatively, you may also want to consider taking our pay-what-you-wish Frenchmen Street walking tour.

French Market

New Orleans french market small

If the Palace Market isn’t your speed, consider taking a stroll down to the French Market instead.

Rather than focusing entirely on the artwork, this market has a variety of local stores and restaurants.

Even if you don’t feel like shopping, you may want to visit this area to see sites such as the Joan of Arc statue and Dutch Alley.

For more information, check out our post about the French Market which includes a free self-guided tour!

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

If you keep walking SW past the French Market, the next site you’ll find is the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.

Much like the New Orleans Jazz Museum, this location also offers live performances now and then.

The rangers from this park will often visit the museum to play their music on the third floor.

They also provide “ranger talks” about the history of jazz in New Orleans and an 11 stop tour of jazz history sites.

In addition to this self-guided tour, you can also take an audio tour which is very informative.

Jackson Square

Located a few blocks from the New Orleans Jazz Museum, Jackson Square is one of the most popular hot spots in the city.

This is the site of many popular seasonal activities, and it’s also a fairly notable historical landmark. In addition to regular events, there are also a lot of notable historic sites in the area that you may want to visit.

For more information, make sure to read our post about Jackson Square.

St. Louis Cathedral

St.-Louis-Cathedral-New-Orleans-French-Quarter s

This historic church has been in New Orleans for hundreds of years. Whether you’re a Catholic or not, chances are you’ll find something interesting about this cathedral.

Although it’s free to enter, you can also take a self-guided tour of the grounds for only $1.

If you plan on visiting, consider walking just past the church down Pirate’s Alley to get a look at St. Anthony’s Garden.

All three sites are included on our pay-what-you-like French Quarter tour and our Ghost tour.

Read our post on the St. Louis Cathedral for more details about nearby attractions.

The Cabildo

You’ll find this historic building right next to the St. Louis Cathedral. The Cabildo is noted as the site where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.

It would later become home to the Louisiana Supreme Court, a body that would eventually decide the case of Plessy v Ferguson.

In addition to all of the important American history surrounding this landmark, it now serves as a large and extensive museum that houses a lot of historical artifacts and exhibits about Louisiana and New Orleans.

The PresbytèreThe-Presbytère-New-Orleans-Tours s

Found on the other side of the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytère was designed to mirror the Cabildo.

This museum offers a variety of interesting artifacts and exhibits including a very popular exhibition about the history of Mardi Gras.

In recent years, their Hurricane Katrina exhibit has also been praised for providing a lot of valuable information about the event and its effects on New Orleans.

For more details, check out our post about the Presbytère.

 


Back to top


 

MUSEUM HISTORY

The New Orleans Jazz Museum wasn’t always devoted to the history of a musical genre.

As a matter of fact, the building where this museum is now located was once used for a completely different purpose: minting coins and other denominations of currency in the United States.

To this day, this museum is still referred to as “The Old U.S. Mint.”

The history behind this location is so noteworthy that they even have an exhibit dedicated to the building’s background. After opening its doors in 1838, this U.S. Mint began producing coins for the country.

During the Civil War, it was noted for being the only mint to make both Confederate and American coins.

Operations at this U.S. Mint were ended in 1909, but the building would continue to be used by the government for a variety of purposes including military functions.

Eventually, the U.S. Government would donate this building to the Louisiana State Museum in 1966.

It would remain in disuse until 1981 when the historic location was converted into the New Orleans Jazz Museum. 

 

About the author

Manager | New Orleans

Sarah first moved to New Orleans in 2001 to work for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana. While working in the communities of New Orleans she fell in love with the unique culture of the Big Easy; it's food, music, architecture, wildlife, and most of all history.

Sarah began her career with FTBF, first as a guide, then as an owner/operator. She believes every day is a good day if she gets to impart her love of her beloved New Orleans with Free Tours By Foot guests. She especially likes to convert new Who Dat Saints Fans!