The Met will borrow art from historically Black institutions for new Harlem Renaissance Exhibition

The exhibition boasts a collection of paintings, sculptures, photography, film and ephemera, according to a news release.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will soon exhibit works celebrating the Harlem Renaissance, The New York Times reports. 

A rich collection of paintings on loan from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country will be displayed in “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” exhibit, opening on Feb. 25 and running through July 28. 

Harlem Renaissance
Circa 1920: American singer and dancer Josephine Baker (1906–1975) harnessed an ostrich to pull a racing sulky. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

The museum announced in a news release that 160 works “will explore the comprehensive and far-reaching ways in which Black artists portrayed everyday modern life in the new Black cities that took shape in the 1920s–40s in New York City’s Harlem and nationwide in the early decades of the Great Migration when millions of African Americans began to move away from the segregated rural South.”

The exhibition will boast a collection of paintings, sculptures, photography, film and ephemera featuring artists including Charles Alston, Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley, Winold Reiss, Augusta Savage, James Van Der Zee, and Laura Wheeler Waring, according to the news release. 

The Met said the exhibition will be New York’s “first art museum survey of the subject” in nearly 40 years. 

“Becoming painters of modern life within their own communities was key to what the Harlem artists were attempting,” said Met curator Denise Murrell, per the Times. 

“It was an act of radical modernity, for example, to make portraits of an elder Black woman who would have been born into enslavement. And to make them in such a dignified way — those images simply did not exist in previous periods,” Murrell added. 

As the Times reports, it was Murrell’s dream to create an exhibition celebrating the Harlem Renaissance — one dedicated to “radical modernity.” 

Significant museums began collecting such works only decades after the Harlem Renaissance, which lasted from 1918 to 1937. According to the Times, private collections and HBCUs received many of these cultural treasures. 

Howard University, Fisk University, Hampton University and Clark Atlanta University are among the institutions contributing money to the “Harlem Renaissance” exhibition.

Murrell said that the Met hopes the exhibit will start long-term partnerships with HBCUs to preserve and present their collections nationally.

“In terms of historical context, this is the first time in art history where we have a cohort of African American artists depicting modern Black life in a modern way,” Murrell said.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!