Bix Beiderbecke Museum & Archives – Davenport, Iowa - Atlas Obscura
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Bix Beiderbecke Museum & Archives

Davenport, Iowa

This small museum is dedicated to one of the most influential, yet obscure, jazz legends of Prohibition.  

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When people think of great jazz music, the state of Iowa probably doesn’t come to mind. Yet, Iowa was the birthplace of Bix Beiderbecke, one of the most influential musicians of the Jazz Age. In 2017, a museum was built to preserve that history.

Located in the basement of a concert venue in Davenport, IA, the Bix Beiderbecke Museum is described as a hidden gem by local residents. The permanent exhibit is packed with artifacts from the Prohibition Era of jazz as it chronicles the life and legacy of Beiderbecke, along with the musicians he performed with during his career.

Highlights of the collection include items such as Beiderbecke’s piano and childhood cornet, a custom mandolin Eddie Condon used to hide liquor bottles inside, Frankie Trumbauer’s saxophone and traveling trunk, clarinets used by Pee-Wee Russell, a variety of 1920’s record players, and even the doorknob and peephole from Beiderbecke’s apartment. 

While the museum is not widely known, it boasts a guestbook filled with names of people from across the world who visited Davenport just to make a pilgrimage to Beiderbecke’s hometown. The museum itself isn’t the only Beiderbecke related place to visit in Davenport.

While in town, people have come to pay their respects at Beiderbecke’s grave located at Oakdale Cemetary, and have driven past his childhood home that still stands on Grand Avenue.

A visit during the summertime around July/August affords visitors the opportunity to take part in the annual Bix Festival, a jazz festival dedicated to his music. 

Know Before You Go

Open Monday-Friday from 10:00 am-5:00 pm and by appointment on Saturdays

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