Our displays will appeal to adults and school-aged children, as well as serious scholars and enthusiasts. They are currently being designed by a consortium of leading Bix experts and Joseph Hines, of Project Arts & Ideas of Dearborn, MI. The full story of Beiderbecke’s brief but eventful life will be presented in 10 sections:
- Bix Lives; showing how his legend has grown over the decades following his death, and that he has received numerous awards and tributes, and inspired generations of musicians, writers, artists, etc.
- Home and Family: Bix’s upbringing in a family steeped in music.
- Davenport; the many musical influences available to Bix in his home town, from riverboats to local dancehalls and vaudeville theaters.
- Lake Forest and Chicago: Bix’s last year of high school was spent in Chicago’s northern suburb of Lake Forest, where the lure of jazz in the Windy City proved irresistible to the young musician.
- Wolverines and Gennett Records; Bix takes on life as a professional musician with a young band that makes a reputation in the Midwest and eventually New York. He makes his first recordings in a pioneering record studio in which Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Muggsy Spanier, and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings also made their recording debuts.
- Partnering with Trumbauer; Bix finds a “guardian angel” and a musical soul-mate in the form of saxophonist Frank Trumbauer. Bix plays in Trumbauer’s band at the Arcadia Ballroom in St. Louis and follows him into the Jean Goldkette band, and later the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
- Hudson Lake; at the back wall of the Museum the stage of the Hudson Lake Casino is re-created, along with a life-size figure of Bix holding a cornet.
- Jean Goldkette and his orchestra are shown in newly discovered photographs and instruments belonging to band members.
- Paul Whiteman; Bix reaches the pinnacle of the music business, but constant work, travel, and addiction to alcohol takes a toll on his health.
- Decline and Death; showing items from his last apartment in Queens, New York, including his last piano and the guest-book from his funeral in Davenport.
The exhibit ends where it started, in the Bix Lives section