Museum focuses on history

January 31, 1991|By Michael Fletcher

In the arts community, they sometimes jokingly refer to Black History Month as "black hysterical month," because of the mad scramble to find black art and presenters to be part of the annual celebration.

But at the Baltimore Museum of Art, officials expend a lot of energy to avoid the annual February rush.

"At our museum at least, focusing on the African-American community's history and origins is not isolated to Black History Month," says Brenda Richardson, BMA's deputy director for art. "We try to have events celebrating black culture throughout the year."

"The celebration is important because it recognizes the achievements of African-Americans and puts their achievements in an American context," says Schroeder Cherry, BMA's director of education and community.

Dr. Cherry, who came to the BMA from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., eight months ago, says Black History Month is as important for whites as for blacks.

"To honor the past and honor the culture of black Americans is vital," Dr. Cherry says. "I think these things are important not only for African-Americans, but really for everyone."

This year's black history celebration at the BMA will include a range of performances and exhibitions, including a African-American and West African puppet show, a West African dance company, a photo exhibition, a film series and a dance tribute to Scott Joplin.

The BMA also will host a free slide lecture on Feb. 10 by Lorn Simpson, who recently completed a show in the "Projects" series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her pictures are on display at the BMA as part of the exhibition called "Constructed Images: New Photography," a show of work by 15 contemporary black and Latino artists.

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