Here’s a quick guide to some of the best exhibits and museums displaying fifty years of Hip-Hop culture that we feel you need to check out as soon as you can and more than once if possible.
Hip-Hop enters its fifth decade of existence this year, and celebrations far and wide are taking place. For those who are devotees of the culture, there will be multiple opportunities to honor and celebrate it thanks to exhibitions being held at various museums and other institutions. Here are a few that we feel are the greatest to see again and again.
Universal Hip-Hop Museum
The Universal Hip-Hop Museum was launched in 2015 to be a “permanent place to celebrate the music that has made the Bronx famous around the world”, located a short distance from its birthplace at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. The current public round of programming, the [R]Evolution of Hip Hop Experience, began in 2019 in its space at the Bronx Terminal Market. Visitors can partake in the sights and sounds of numerous artifacts from artists and those close to the culture spanning 50 years as the permanent home is currently being built at the Bronx Point development at 610 Exterior Street. Once completed, it will occupy 52,000 square feet as part of a residential complex. Recently, it received a grant of $5.5 million.
In an interview, UHHM Executive Director Rocky Bucano spoke about the exciting new developments the museum has in store. “We will be opening up a traveling museum that will start here in New York City. The traveling museum will debut in Manhattan, so we’re working on a location now,” he said.
The National Hip-Hop Museum
The National Hip-Hop Museum is located in Washington, D.C. in close proximity to Howard University. It launched from the Listen Video studios owned and operated by DJ BOOM, who has been a fixture of the culture there since the 1990s and was integral to helping launch the first satellite-broadcast radio station devoted to Hip-Hop, The Rhyme while serving as a Director of Production at XM Satellite Radio. The gallery space is located within the studio grounds and is home to one of the largest collections of Hip-Hop memorabilia and artifacts around. The museum holds periodic exhibits and sponsors major events featuring iconic and contemporary Hip-Hop artists.
HipHop: Conscious Unconscious
Fotografiska New York is the host of a sprawling exhibition featuring photography capturing Hip-Hop’s fifty years of existence. The exhibit, curated in part with Sacha Jenkins and Mass Appeal, features stunning photographs dating from the culture’s inception in the Bronx to now. It features photographs taken by renowned artists such as Jamel Shabazz, Campbell Addy, Ernie Paniccioli, and more detailing the strong role of women in the culture, and also contains never-before-seen artifacts.
The exhibit runs until May 21st.
The Culture: Hip-Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
This exhibit is the fruit of a collaborative effort between the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Saint Louis Art Museum, with the aim of giving the public “an opportunity to celebrate the richness of creativity and innovation hip hop has catalyzed by exploring it through social, material, and art historical lenses,” according to the Baltimore museum’s Chief Education Officer Gamynne Guillotte. Covering Hip-Hop from the year 2000, it will feature artwork that shows how the culture has impacted society through changing and reforming narratives on race, sexuality and social justice among other subjects. It will run from April 5th until July 16th in Baltimore, then at the Saint Louis Art Museum from August 25th until January 1st, 2024.
Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: 50 Years of Hip-Hop Style
As it is well-regarded how much of Hip-Hop culture has fashion embedded within it, this new exhibit which is at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City is a welcome addition to the anniversary calendar. Featuring over 100 items ranging from the lauded Adidas tracksuits worn by RUN-DMC to vintage Karl Kani pieces sported by the late Tupac Shakur, the exhibit will also pay homage to urban brands launched by Hip-Hop artists that rose to fame such as Rocawear. The exhibit is currently running until April 23rd.
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