The legendary jazz musician Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton once said, “It is evidently known, beyond contradiction, that New Orleans is the Cradle of Jazz, and I myself happen to be the inventor in the year 1902.” A bold claim. While Jelly Roll famously declared sole authorship over the genre, some argue jazz music was collectively invented in New Orleans’s Congo Square before the U.S. Civil War; others locate jazz’s inception in 1895 with the formation of Buddy Bolden’s first band.
Regardless, one thing interlocutors can agree on is that jazz music indeed started in New Orleans before it took off around the world. This October, New Orleans–based EskewDumezRipple released renderings of a forthcoming museum in Louisiana’s historic capital that celebrates this history.
The Louisiana Music and Heritage Experience Museum is a new, 120,000-square-foot venue in downtown New Orleans across the street from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It’s designed as a place to display the rich musical history of the city. The forthcoming museum is not the first in Louisiana to focus its exhibitions on music, but according to a press release it is the first to offer “the complete view of music as it relates to the people and legacy of music from the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana.”
Kirk Joseph, a member of NOLA’s famous Dirty Dozen Band, aided in the museum’s planning; along with other well-known Louisiana musicians. The building’s interior provides generous amounts of state-of-the-art exhibit and performance spaces, a research/archival area, a museum store, and space for educational programming. The Louisiana Music and Heritage Experience Museum also delivers a music club and restaurant designed for showcasing local sounds and tastes of New Orleans.
To arrive at the building’s unique form, architects used artificial intelligence (AI) programs like Midjourney in the schematic phase. EskewDumezRipple used the software to generate a variety of massings generated from inputs such as “guitars,” “saxophones,” “Zumthor architecture”, “dramatic lighting,” and “cinematic.” The output resulted in the Louisiana Music and Heritage Experience Museum’s one-of-a-kind exterior marked by a translucent facade. A hollowed roofline and several oval-shaped and rounded cutouts reveal the architectural and lighting elements housed internally. Inside the use of wood and other beige- and brown-toned furnishings and finishes allude to the materiality and shape of jazz instruments.
EskewDumezRipple notes that the museum’s formal qualities are inspired by jazz instruments. Its envelope is a nod to the body of a guitar, while its silhouette more broadly takes cues from the profiles of violins, guitars, and various brass instruments.
The museum is set to open in 2027.