Bell County Museum is featuring photographs by William Gottlieb in a new exhibit “Portraits from the Golden Age of Jazz” running through June 9.
About 75 stills taken from 1938 to 1948 featuring jazz favorites like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Billy Holiday, Charlie Parker, Django Reinhardt and James “The Brute” Johnson are on display.
Many of the photographs are recognizable from magazines, books, calendars, posters, albums and CD covers. They have also been used in documentaries and movies, according to the museum.
Along with the photos, vintage dresses, a Wurlitzer jukebox, and musical instruments from the era — a rain-catcher tuba, trombone, saxophone, trumpet and several rare silver clarinets restored by museum employees — are also featured.
Troy Gray, a Bell County Museum employee for three years, developed interactive jazz exhibits for children.
“There will be a karaoke machine filled with jazz music, some instruments to play, a feather boa and a 1930s fedora so kids can really get into the act,” Gray said. “There will also be a computer, both for kids and adults, with websites with more information about jazz.”
Architect Adriana Cocannoure visited the exhibit on opening night April 12.
“I thought it was a unique concept to put something together like this,” she said. “It’s something you won’t be exposed to on a regular basis, and you don’t have to travel to Houston or Dallas to learn about it.”
Local photographer Caroline Chi of Iconic Photographies in Harker Heights was pleased with the show and hopes to see similar exhibits in the future at the museum.
“In this town, we need more art and culture” she said. “I love this. It’s just pure art, and unfortunately, we don’t have enough of that.”
The free exhibit is open during regular museum hours, noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The museum is at 201 N. Main St., Belton. For more information, call (254) 933-5243.