Photography: Louis Armstrong Center Interior 6/29/23

Photography: Louis Armstrong Center Interior 6/29/23

Last month, I was invited to the ribbon cutting for The Louis Armstrong House Museum’s brand, spanking new Louis Armstrong Center. Located across the street from Armstrong’s home in Corona, Queens, NYC, the new center, which was designed by Caples Jefferson Architects will help the museum expand its vision to preserve Armstrong’s legacy — and bring more music, fun and education to the community.

The Armstrong Center will be the permanent home for the 700-piece Louis Armstrong Archive, which is coincidentally, the world’s largest for a jazz musician. But along with that, it’ll host the state-of-the-art exhibition Here To Stay, curated by award-winning jazz pianist and Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center, Jason Moran, performances, lectures, films and experiences for K-12 students, including trumpet lessons, inspired by the donation of Ken Karnofsky (the same family, who helped Louis buy his first trumpet when he was a young boy).

Louis Armstrong’s influence and impact on music has been towering. So if you love jazz, you need to check out the new center and the house. If you love Queens, you need to go. If you’re from Corona, you must go. And if you just love music, it’s a must see.

Some photos below.

Captain: Louis Armstrong’s passports. The first passport was issued when Louis was in his early 30s. He was a budding superstar at the time, and you can see a bit of youthful naiveté and uncertainty. The second passport photo was issued when Louis was in his mid-60s and had been a global star for some time. In that photo, you can see a man, who has seen it all, done it all — and considers himself ridiculously lucky to be where he is at that moment. Seeing both of these passports made me burst into tears. I saw some of myself in those photos. Also, I mean look at how young Louis looked!
Caption: Louis Armstrong’s Trumpet, gifted to him by King George V and monogrammed handkerchief, The Louis Armstrong Center, Corona, Queens.
Caption: Armstrong recorded a ton of stuff at his house, and this particular tape is adorned with a photo he and his wife were proud of — Armstrong meeting Pope Paul VI, I believe. As you can see, Armstrong is gifting the pope a couple of his records.
Caption: Louis Armstrong’s handwritten manuscript about Corona. He loved the neighborhood immensely and growing up a few minutes away, I understood his profound love of the neighborhood — and it made me love it just a it more. The Louis Armstrong Center, Corona, Queens.
Caption: A small portion of Armstrong’s copious archives, featuring some of his own collage-based artwork. The Louis Armstrong Center, Corona, Queens
Caption: The gorgeous performance space at The Louis Armstrong Center. It seats about 85.