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The Met Museum Takes a Deep Dive into the Harlem Renaissance

Updated: Feb 23

William Henry Johnson, "Street Life, Harlem"

The Met is celebrating the Harlem Renaissance with a new exhibition that's long overdue.

"The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism," which opens on February 25, shines the spotlight on the paintings, photography and sculptures of Black artists who portrayed life in Harlem and other northern cities during the flourishing early years of the Great Migration (1920s-1940s).

Courtesy The Met; photo by Anna-Marie Kellen

It comes 55 years after the museum’s controversial “Harlem on My Mind” exhibition, which didn't feature a single Black artist (only photos of the neighborhood).

Curated by Denise Murrell (also behind the groundbreaking "Posing Modernity" show at Columbia's Wallach Gallery and the Musée d'Orsay), the exhibition includes the work of Jacob Lawrence, William H. Johnson, Aaron Douglas, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and so many others that tell the story of this iconic movement.

Archibald J. Motley, Jr., "Black Belt"

Many of the pieces come from the collections of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Hampton University Art Museum, and Howard University Gallery of Art.

"The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism" runs through July 28; admission for New York State residents is pay-what-you-wish.

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