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KEY Oklahoma City

diningVisitor’s to Oklahoma City with have the opportunity to explore African American art of the 1920s and 1930s and its lasting legacy with a one-of-a-kind exhibition held only at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Organized by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Harlem Renaissance includes more than 100 paintings, sculptures, and photographs. From the “vogue” of Harlem in the twenties to the Great Depression in the thirties, artists created innovative works that expressed the uniqueness of their experiences as African American artists, while participating in larger developments in American art.

Harlem Renaissance marks the first exhibition of African American art at the Museum in more than 20 years. Organized thematically, Harlem Renaissance explores a number of subjects, including Harlem as a literary center, portraiture and the “New Negro,” life in Paris and abroad, the influence of European modernism and African art, as well as images related to daily life, African American history, and the South. The exhibition also examines the idea of Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance as a later artistic subject.

In addition to painting and sculpture, the exhibit highlights photography as an important medium of artistic expression during the Harlem Renaissance. Photographers captured the people and activities of Harlem and the likenesses of notable Harlemites and Renaissance figures. Harlem Renaissance also includes photographs of Oklahoma City’s African American community during this period, which includes musician Charlie Christian, the young author Ralph Ellison, and the area known as “Deep Deuce.”

Harlem Renaissance features early short musical films of the period, including the first filmed appearances of Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, Josephine Baker, and Bessie Smith. These films reveal the astonishing musical talent during the Harlem Renaissance as well as a visual document of black urban life in the 1920s and 30s.

The exhibition brings together key works from over 20 lending institutions. Lenders include the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursday and Friday until 9:00 p.m., Sundays Noon to 5:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and children five and under are free. For more information, call 405-236-3100 or visit

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