Half a century ago, in a similar time of protest and radical change, a group of fiercely resolute individuals created a museum that would advocate for artists of African descent. They were determined that it would be a new kind of museum—a place to view art and create it, a center for gathering in common cause and in celebration, a vital link between artists and community in the cultural capital of black America.
This is how The Studio Museum in Harlem began—as a bold venture and a cherished hope. For more than fifty years, the Studio Museum has championed the black vanguard and incubated new talent with its legendary residency program—Kerry James Marshall, Simone Leigh, and Sable Elyse Smith are among its many esteemed graduates. The Studio Museum in Harlem is the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally and for work that has been inspired and influenced by black culture.
Our innovative and ground-breaking exhibitions, including the Museum’s highly acclaimed “F” shows, programs and publications have defined historical themes and concepts, set scholarly standards and provided support for generations of artists who for decades were excluded from mainstream museums and commercial galleries.
While we can say with pride that our founders’ dreams have become reality, our work is far from over. Now more than ever, the voices of black artists and art’s ability to communicate across racial, social and economic divides are essential. Art is an instrumental catalyst for important and often necessary dialogue. The Studio Museum in Harlem’s mission lies at the heart of this work.