Located within the walls of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a three-building complex, are surprisingly rare and unique books, manuscripts, artworks, photographs and memorabilia as old as the 4th century and as new as today! There are people—old, young, and all ages in between; rich, poor, and everything in between; stars, heroes, and heroines of all types. Some arrive daily in living color. Others have left their legacies in the files and stacks for all to see.
What’s Up @ the Schomburg? highlights the evolution of this multifaceted cultural center over the last 25 years during the tenure of its Chief, Howard Dodson. It showcases the many faces and multiple identities of this 85-year-old iconic institution and presents, for the first time, a comprehensive look at the many programs, collections, and services it offers.
The exhibition presents a variety of African and African Diaspora themes that have been documented by acquisitions over the last 25 years. A diverse selection of treasures include a bill of sale for an enslaved Yoruba woman in Brazil; a document signed by Toussaint Louverture in Haiti in 1800; an 1801 letter from the future king of Northern Haiti, Henry Christophe; an 1857 list of Cuban runaways; Black Manhattan, a collage by Romare Bearden; Marcus Garvey's newspaper The Negro World; and documents from the AME Church, the Nation of Islam, the Hebrew Israelites, the Ethiopian Church; and many more.
In adddition, the exhibition features historical and cultural collections including The Malcolm X Collection, spotlighting photographs of him at various stages in his life, family photos, as well as his Qur’an; The Lorraine Hansberry Collection, which showcases the award-winning playwright’s personal papers, manuscripts, and photographs; the Melville and Frances Herskovits Collection of African and African Diaspora art, papers, and photographs, assembled by the noted anthropologists; and renowned theater historian Helen Armstead Johnson’s collection, which includes historical photos, posters, theater memorabilia, and rarely seen scrapbooks of black entertainers of the 18th and 20th centuries.
More than a library, museum, or cultural center, the Schomburg Center embraces all of these. There are photographs, films, books, and manuscripts on the global black experience Up @ the Schomburg; there are music, dance, theater, and exhibitions of all kinds on black people worldwide; there are scholars, researchers, and research projects along with teaching and learning opportunities—and all can be found Up @ the Schomburg.
Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sunday. For exhibition information, call (212) 491-2200. No admission fee; contributions and memberships are welcome.