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The Smithsonian Announces $2.5 Million Jazz Endowment by LeRoy Neiman Foundation and Installation of Neiman’s ‘Big Band’ Painting

The Smithsonian’s The National Museum of American History/PR NewsFoto

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and The Smithsonian’s The National Museum of American History is launching its celebration with a $2.5 million endowment from the LeRoy Neiman Foundation to expand its jazz programming.

Neiman, who died in 2012 at the age of 91 years old, was best known for colorful paintings and illustrations that presented scenes of sports and entertainment. Among his work is a distinctive body of paintings of American jazz legends and music of the 1950s to 1960s.

Besides the endowment, his foundation is donating Neiman’s painting Big Band, a 9-by-13-foot painting featuring 18 iconic jazz musicians.

As part of its JAM 2015 kickoff, the museum is unveiling other significant acquisitions, including the upright bass and archives of jazz musician and double bassist Ray Brown, who is known for his work with Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and others; the collection of jazz photographer Duncan Schiedt; and a print of the iconic Ella in Flight poster, by Neiman.

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