As NPR reports, the Louis Armstrong Archive, the world’s largest for any single jazz musician, was established at Queens College in 1991. A dozen years later, Armstrong’s brick-faced home in Corona, Queens, already a registered landmark, opened to the public as the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
Now it has a gleaming new neighbor just across the street: the Louis Armstrong Center, a $26 million facility that will greatly expand access to the museum and house of the 60,000 items in the archive, bringing them back to the block.
Inside, guests can peruse an interactive digital kiosk and several display cases full of artifacts, like Armstrong’s trumpet, a few of his mixed-media collages, and two of his passports.
“We’ve had people from around the world come here,” Armstrong biographer Ricky Riccardi, the museum’s Director of Research Collections, told NPR. “They know about the house. They know about the museum. They’ve taken the tour. They’ve been to Corona. They don’t quite know the archival side: They’ve never seen the collages, they’ve never heard the tapes. And so the house will always be the gem, the jewel. That’ll still be number one. But now we have the space that we can properly show the archives.”
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.