Metropolitan Museum of Art Announces Harlem Renaissance Exhibition

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the Met, will pay homage to Black artists of the early 20th century. A Harlem Renaissance exhibition is set to open in 2024.

The exhibition, “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism,” will run from Feb. 25 to July 28. According to the New York Times, the paintings will be on loan from HBCUs nationwide—including Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Fisk University Galleries, Hampton University Art Museum, and Howard University Gallery of Art—providing the most in-depth survey for the artwork in New York City in decades.

“We want to show the full breadth of thinking,” shared Denise Murrell, the Met’s curator. “In terms of historical context, this is the first time in art history where we have a cohort of African American artists depicting modern Black life in a modern way. These artists decided to commit their artistic careers to representing modern Black life in the absence of institutional or market support.”

Unfortunately, the famed art museum’s history has been muddled regarding its inclusion of Black artists, but this latest attempt is spearheading New York City’s modern movement to highlight the paintings and sculptures by the Harlem Renaissance’s finest.

Quintessential pieces, such as “Woman in Blue” by William H. Johnson, and sculptures by Augusta Savage, will be in the exhibition. Murrell also described the thoughts that inspired the artists’ pieces, calling it a “radical modernity” to focus on the everyday lives of those marginalized,

“Becoming painters of modern life within their own communities was key to what the Harlem artists were attempting. It was an act of radical modernity, for example, to make portraits of an elder Black woman who would have been born into enslavement. And to make them in such a dignified way—those images simply did not exist in previous periods.”