The Australian Jazz Museum is home to the largest Australian jazz collection. It is a unique, wonderful, and growing national treasure. All of this material is catalogued to museum standard, and stored in archival conditions.
Our collection is made up of three broad components:
1) The heart of our collection comprises recordings of Australian jazz, some of which are unique or very rare, on a great variety of media. In addition there are oral histories of and by Australian jazz greats; video coverage of jazz events; posters advertising jazz concerts and festivals; photos and videos of jazz bands and musicians; jazz books, magazines, and diaries; jazz sheet music, charts, and band arrangements; jazz-club newsletters and histories; instruments donated by famous Australian jazz artists; and more.
2) Acknowledging the mutual relationship between jazz traditions and musicians of many countries around the world, we also maintain significant collections of overseas jazz recordings and materials.
3) We also house the archive of the Australian Jazz Convention, the world’s longest running festival of this type, which has run every year since 1946. Each year the collection expands to encompass the current year’s convention.
Proactively Collecting, Archiving & Disseminating
Our entire collection is made up of donations by generous benefactors. We do not have the resources to purchase items for our collection, so the donation of jazz materials is very important.
The long-term safety of our recorded Australian jazz is of key concern to us, and time is of the essence. Many of the early recordings are on acetate discs, old reel-to-reel tapes or cassette tapes. These, along with photos, films, historical musical instruments, posters, programs and other ephemera, are subject to deterioration and accidental damage. In particular, with acetate disks, the coating can peel off its aluminium base.
Recordings on fragile media such as acetate or tape are transcribed into the computer in our sound room, annotated appropriately, entered into a database, and output as preservation and/or access copies on highest-quality CDs. These are stored in our vault in archival packaging, with the access copy being the sole copy available for study or other use. The original recording and/or preservation copy is stored, untouched, in the vault for posterity and also lodged with Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive. A similar process is used to protect and preserve oral histories, video recordings, photographs and posters.
Less-fragile items that are gifted or bequeathed to the Australian Jazz Museum are sorted, documented, carefully packaged,and catalogued.
We have transcribed important Australian jazz performances from older formats to over 1,500 CDs and catalogued in excess of 100,000 individual tracks, records and personnel details.
All the archiving is done to high professional standards, a quality recognised by awards for conservation and preservation from both Museums Australia and the National Bank of Australia nationwide conservation program. See Our History.
The collection can be accessed for enjoyment and/or research:
- The AJM hosts regular in-house exhibits and temporary exhibits at libraries, and contributes to radio programs. See What’s On.
- The collection is searchable online as part of our new collections database (music, videos, photographs, posters), and National Library of Australia (TROVE) or Worldcat databases (periodicals). The remaining items in our collection are catalogued in internal databases, which are available on the premises. For more information see Research
- The articles in our quarterly newsletter often include updates about new donations to our collection, or are based on collection research. See Publications.
- The AJM has compiled some great Australian jazz CDs, accompanied by detailed notes, personnel listings, and the results of our investigation and research. We have also published several works, including the third volume of Jack Mitchell’s Australia Jazz Discography. See VJAZZ Series.
- If your organisation, event, radio or TV show like to have a speech, presentation, workshop, or interview about Australian jazz, please contact us!