Toni Morrison Papers to Be Exhibited During Princeton University’s Community-wide Series

This Black writer has impacted the Black creative life at one of the oldest higher education institutions in the United States.

Toni Morrison, one of Princeton University’s most famous professors and author of Black experience novels, will be highlighted in a series of events and exhibitions scheduled at the institution next month.

According to the Princeton University Library, the community-wide series, Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory, will explore the late writer’s creative process and influences on the past, present, and future.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of Toni Morrison’s writing to American literature, art, and life. This exhibition draws us toward the unexplored corners of her writing process and unknown aspects of her creative investments that only live in this archive,” said Autumn Womack, assistant professor of English and African American Studies.

In 2014, the university acquired 200 linear feet of research materials, manuscript drafts, correspondence, photographs, and other ephemera that were combined into the Toni Morrison Papers archive.

“In imagining this initiative—from exhibition to symposium to partner projects—I wanted to show the importance of the archive to understanding Morrison’s work and practice. But I also wanted to show how this archive, in particular, is a site that opens up new lines of inquiry and inspires new kinds of collaboration,” said Womack.

The exhibition will include around 100 original archival items to be organized into six categories: “Beginnings,” “Writing Time,” “Thereness-ness,” “Wonderings and Wanderings,” “Genealogies of Black Feminism,” and “Speculative Futures.”

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to explore the legacy of Toni Morrison’s work and the remarkable impression she left on Princeton University,” said Anne Jarvis, the Robert H. Taylor 1930 University Librarian.

Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory opens at PUL’s Milberg Gallery on Feb. 22, 2023, through June 4, 2023.

The series of programs will include an art exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge featuring Saar, performances responding to Morrison’s work presented by McCarter Theatre, and Princeton University Concerts, a landmark three-day symposium combining over 30 writers and artists to reflect on Morrison’s relationship to the archive, public tours of Sites of Memory, children’s programming, a spring lecture series, and undergraduate courses on Morrison’s work.

In addition to the exhibit, the Princeton University Art Museum will present writings and other notes from Morrison’s archive through “Cycle of Creativity: Alison Saar and the Toni Morrison Papers.” Morrison’s writings will be presented with sculptures, prints, and textiles by Saar, a featured artist in the exhibit. The combination of both creators’ works will reflect themes of musicality, labor, and ancestry.

As previously reported by BLACK ENTERPRISE, the Nobel Prize Laureate died in 2019. Morrison was the first Black woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Morrison taught at the university for 17 years, from 1989 to 2006.