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The Renaissance: Black Arts of the Twenties

September 15, 1985 – December 29, 1986

In the decade between World War I and the Great Depression, African American creativity in literature, music, visual arts, and performing arts flourished. This golden age of creative expression took its name from Alain Locke’s anthology, The New Negro, which advocated acknowledging African heritage as integral to black identity. The New Negro Renaissance, also known as the Harlem Renaissance, brought a rebirth of racial self-confidence and pride and kindled a new interest in black art and culture in the American public.

On display are historic photographs, original sheet music, jazz-band instruments, and recordings; images of poets and authors and samples of their works; examples of painting and sculpture along with period exhibition catalogs; spirituals, folk melodies, and road songs; books and articles on African art; and playbills, programs, and photographs of theatrical artists.

An audio-visual presentation traces the development of musical revues while a narrated presentation devoted to black films of the period features excerpts of notable productions.

Artists represented include Marian Anderson, Richard Barthé, Countee Cullen, Aaron Douglas, Duke Ellington, Meta Warrick Fuller, Roland Hayes, Zora Neale Hurston, Malvin Gray Johnson, Alain Locke, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Paul Robeson, George Schuyler, and Wallace Thurman.