5. The neighborhood houses cultural and artistic institutions dedicated to conserving the work of Black Americans
Given the large African American presence in Harlem, it’s no surprise that the neighborhood houses some of the city’s most important cultural and artistic institutions dedicated to conserving the work of Black Americans. One such institution is the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research library of the New York Public Library system. Founded in 1905 by Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the center is known today as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African Americans, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Schomburg, who immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico in 1891, wrote prolifically on Caribbean and African-American history.
There’s also the National Black Theatre, which holds the largest collection of Nigerian New Sacred Art in the Western Hemisphere, with featured items including hand-carved wood totems and traditional copper, aluminum, and brass relief art. Formerly located in an abandoned firehouse, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCDAI) is an art, culture, education, and media organization that helps to advance cultural equity, racial, and social justice for African descendant communities. The center offers several fellowships every year which support leaders and creators of color.
Over the years, the Studio Museum in Harlem has displayed multiple exhibits commenting on the issues affecting Black Americans, including a 1985 display entitled Tradition and Conflict: Images of a Turbulent Decade 1963-1973, which featured the work of artists grappling with the Civil Rights Movement and its aftermath.