National Jazz Museum in Harlem

There are several museums dedicated to jazz and one, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, carries on the tradition of preserving, presenting and promoting an art cultural form considered truly American.

A Smithsonian affiliate, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem was founded in 1997 in order to inspire, according to its website, “… knowledge, appreciation and the celebration of jazz locally, nationally and internationally.”  It was housed at 104 East 126th Street in East Harlem for more than fifteen years; in early 2016, the jazz museum relocated to 58 West 129th Street in Central Harlem.

The concept for the museum was conceived in 1995 and its founders were Leonard Garnet and Abraham D. Sofaer, strong supporters of jazz.  Leonard Garnet was an attorney who, under President Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, served as Counselor to the President, Special Counsel and a U.S. Ambassador. 

Abraham Sofaer formerly acted as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York as well as a legal advisor to the U.S. State Department.  He was further motivated to develop the museum because of his regard and love for his late brother-in-law, Richard J. Scheuer, Jr.  Scheuer, a general partner in R.J. Scheuer & Company, a Manhattan arbitrage firm, passed away from a brain hemorrhage in 1996; he was only forty-eight years old.  Scheuer, a passionate advocate for education and the arts in New York City, was the trustee of his family’s charitable foundation.

By matching the contributions of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem opened to appeal to all, regardless of age, education, expertise or ability, who are interested in jazz and its myriad of forms.  Every week, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem provides programs, including the “Harlem Speaks” lecture series.  It also hosts events and programs at other venues in New York.