Studio Museum in Harlem

Coordinates: 40°48′30.52″N 73°56′51.12″W / 40.8084778°N 73.9475333°W / 40.8084778; -73.9475333

Studio Museum in Harlem
Established 1968
Location 144 West 125th Street
Manhattan, New York City
Director Thelma Golden
Public transit access

Subway: to 125th Street

Bus: M7, M60 SBS, M100, M102, Bx15 buses

The Studio Museum in Harlem, located at 144 West 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City is an American contemporary art museum which is devoted to the work of African-Americans artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.[1] The museum's mission is to collect, preserve and interpret the art of African-Americans and the African diaspora.[2] Founded in 1968, it was the first such museum in the United States. Its scope includes exhibitions, artists-in-residence programs, educational and public programming, a permanent collection, as well as archival and research facilities.

Since opening, in a rented loft at Fifth Avenue and 125th Street, the Studio Museum has earned recognition for its role in promoting the works of artists of African descent. The Museum's Artists-in-Residence program has supported over one hundred graduates who have gone on to highly regarded careers.[3] A wide variety of educational and public programs have brought the African-American experience to the public by means of lectures, dialogues, panel discussions and performances, as well as interpretive programs, both on- and off-site, for students and teachers. The exhibitions program has also expanded the scope of art historical literature through the production of scholarly catalogues, brochures, and pamphlets.


Entrance (2013)

The idea which became the Studio Museum was developed by the Junior Council of the Museum of Modern Art, in the belief that the African American community should include a museum as part of its everyday experience, and to reflect their interests. The basic concept was to create an uptown space focused on art by contemporary African American artists that would be accessible to the community. Opened in 1968, in a rented loft, the Studio Museum in Harlem moved to its present location in 1977,[4] where it focuses on exhibiting works by both emerging and established American artists of the African Diaspora.

Originally, the museum focused on workshops and exhibition programs that were designed to give artists a space to practice their craft, create works and show them. This idea led the trustees of the museum to start an Artist-in-Residence program. The proposal for the studio component of the museum was then written by the African American painter William T. Williams, who believed it was important to have black artists working in the Harlem community, and also exhibiting their work in that community. Williams and sculptor Mel Edwards physically cleaned up and prepared the former industrial loft space at the museum's original location at 2033 Fifth Avenue (at 125th Street) for conversion into artists studios. To build up the initial collection, the museum solicited donations from artists, collectors, members of the Museum's Board of Trustees, and friends of the Museum.[2] After two years of preparation, the museum celebrated the opening in September 1968 of its first exhibition, Electronic Reflections II, featuring works by artist Tom Lloyd, also the museum's first director. Directors since that time have been Edward Spriggs, Courtney Callender, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Lowery Stokes Sims, and Thelma Golden, its current director.

In 2001, architects Rogers Marvel Architects designed the building's entry pavilion, exhibition spaces and auditorium, as well as other facilities.[4]

David Hammons' African American Flag (1990) flying outside the museum

The museum's Artist-in-Residence program celebrated its 40th year in 2010. It has helped to cultivate the art making practices and careers of more than one hundred artists, and the museum has fostered the careers of numerous museum professionals as well.

Assistant Curator Naima Keith has brought about many new exhibitions since 2011, including ones focused on Afrofuturism.[5]

Artist-in-Residence program

Each year, the Studio Museum offers an eleven-month studio residency for three local, national, or international emerging artists working in any media. Each artist is granted a free non-living studio space and a stipend. Artists have access to the Museum's studios and are expected to work in the studio a minimum of twenty hours per week and participate in open studios and public programs. At the end of the residency, an exhibition of the artists’ work is presented in the Museum’s galleries.[6]

List of former Artists in Residence:[7]


The Studio Museum's permanent collection contains approximately 2000 works, including drawings, pastels, prints, photographs, mixed-media works and installations. It comprises works created by artists during their residencies, as well as pieces given to the Museum to create a historical framework for artists of African descent. Featured in the collection are Terry Adkins, Romare Bearden, Skunder Boghossian, Robert Colescott, Melvin Edwards, Kira Lynn Harris, Richard Hunt, Hector Hyppolite, Serge Jolimeau, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Wardell Milan, Philome Obin, Betye Saar, Nari Ward, and Hale Woodruff, among others. The Museum is also the custodian of an extensive archive of the work of photographer James VanDerZee, the noted chronicler of the Harlem community during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.In 1985 the museum was the recipient of the Award of Merit from the Municipal Art Society of New York City in recognition of its outstanding Black art collection.[2]

See also


  1. Time Out New York: Studio Museum in Harlem
  2. 1 2 3 The Studio Museum in Harlem 25 Years of African-American Art. Manlius, NY: Salina Press. 1994. p. 6. ISBN 0-942949-11-0.
  3. "Artist-in-Residence | The Studio Museum in Harlem". Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  4. 1 2 Hill, John. Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture. New York:W. W. Norton, 2011. p.152
  5. Boucher, Brian (March 17, 2015) "25 Women Curators on the Rise" Artnet
  6. The Studio Museum in Harlem (2010). Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  7. "Artists-in-Residence". Studio Museum. Studio Museum in Harlem. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
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