Letter from the Director: 50th Anniversary Issue


On the evening of September 24, 1968, The Studio Museum in Harlem opened its very first exhibition with a reception celebrating Tom Lloyd: Electronic Refractions II.

By all accounts it was a lively celebration attended by founders and friends, artists and neighbors. They came together to celebrate this new space in Harlem devoted to showing and nurturing black artists. A radical undertaking had become a reality.

Fifty years later, on September 24, 2018, and over the days that followed, our Museum family showed their love and support as only they can. The anniversary and related media coverage led to an outpouring of heartfelt messages on Instagram and Twitter that completely blew us away. Artists, alumni, visitors, and friends responded with remembrances of their experiences with the Museum over the years (as well as a slew of champagne and raised-hands emojis).

While likes and retweets are a very 2018 way to mark an anniversary, they remind us that the Studio Museum has meant so much to so many over the past five decades. In the 50th anniversary issue of Studio, we explore the many ways the bright future for artists of African descent our founders so boldly envisioned has become a reality, and talk with some of the amazing people who have been our leaders and partners on this amazing journey. In upcoming stories published here, you’ll find scholarly reflections from Dr. Kellie Jones and Connie H. Choi; reminiscences from past artists in residence and education program participants; firsthand accounts from our esteemed past directors Edward S. Spriggs, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, and Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims; and much more.

We invite you to share your own stories of the Studio Museum’s impact using #studiomuseum50years.

I extend my deepest thanks to all of the Studio Museum’s many communities: local, national, and international; online, in print, and in person; past, present, and future. We couldn’t be where we are today without you—and you are absolutely essential as we look to tomorrow.

— Thelma Golden

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