In the Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard

August 5, 2016 - February 20, 2017
Primer piso

Enthralled by the music and those who made it, Herman Leonard (1923–2010) began haunting the New York’s jazz clubs after opening his first studio in Greenwich Village in 1948. Armed with his Speed Graphic camera, Leonard made images that captured the very essence of a live jazz performance. Soon, his photographs were gracing album covers and appearing in the pages of DownBeat and Metronome. Leonard’s extraordinary photographs are widely regarded as the definitive portraits of many of the 20th century’s greatest jazz artists.

This exhibition from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery features Leonard’s iconic images of jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan.

“In the Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard” is made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. This exhibition is presented in celebration of the 2016 grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In the Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard is now available for tour. For more information about bringing this show to your institution, please contact Marlene Harrison, Traveling Exhibitions Specialist, at 202-633-8287 or  All participation fees are for domestic tours.  International venues would incur additional costs.

Tour Itinerary

  • November 8, 2018 to  January 27, 2019  |  National Museum of History, Hillerød, Denmark (Confirmed)
  • Mid-May 2020 to early August 2020 – OPEN
  • September 2020 to December 2020 – Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, TN (HOLD)

Please contact for possible tour extension


Exhibition Specifications

• 30 black-and-white photographs
• Digital files for all exhibition texts, title graphic design, organizer credits, and logo
• Sample ideas of Portrait Gallery educational programming

Support Services
• Installation and display guidelines
• Portrait Gallery courier to oversee unpacking/packing and installation/deinstallation
• Press kit, including sample press release, press images, and captions with credits

Space Required
Approximately 160 linear feet

Security and Special Requirements:
• High security
• 5 to 7 footcandles required
• 70°F ±2; RH 50% ±5%

Limited to 3 venues, beginning November 2018
(See Tour Itinerary)

Participation Fee
Available upon request

One-way shipping via Portrait Gallery-approved
professional fine art shipper with dual driver,
air-ride transit.

View the Prospectus:

Prospectus cover with Herman Leonard portraits of jazz icons

View the list of portraits:

List of portraits in the exhibition