Based on the visionary collections of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, this has been at the center of the study of Black Culture in the United States since 1925. During nearly 100 years the collection has evolved from the original books and manuscripts by Black authors to include photographs, sculpture, paintings, and sound and video recordings. The center has several exhibition spaces which host rotation shows covering topics relevant to the Black community and African diaspora.
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.
What You Will See
The center's primary purpose is as a research center, where its 11 million objects are made available to scholars. Casual visitors enjoy detailed exhibitions on a variety of topics, ranging from political activism--including the ongoing exploration of the Black Power movement--literary and artistic achievement, and historical topics with a small permanent collection of art on display in the reading rooms.
Why You Should Go
Apart from the New York Public Library's flagship Schartzman building, this is the most curatorially-active branch of the entire library system, with several dedicated gallery spaces and a long calendar of events. The center celebrates the fabled past of the Harlem Renaissance while maintaining a keen contemporary eye for new artists and writers and tracking contemporary issues among the community. Any exploration of the Harlem neighborhood by tourists or locals should begin or end at the Schomburg Center.