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Visit the EXHIBIT
harlem is . . . MUSIC, THEATER, DANCE

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Our harlem Is . . . Music, Theater, and Dance exhibit is a community learning project that grew from one classroom in Harlem to a renowned multimedia, living history exhibition. This exhibition now at Harlem Hospital is the culmination of a 23-year journey of exploring the people, the culture, the art, and the activism that define this spectacular Harlem community.


Community Works and New Heritage Theatre Group have toured this award-winning multi-part series of exhibitions citywide to more than 30 locations from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to Federal Hall National Memorial. More than 3 million people have viewed the exhibitions created with young people working with more than 70 legendary figures in harlem to document their stories in their own neighborhood.


Now permanently at the historic Harlem Hospital Center, this exhibition has a home with an institution that also believes that art heals and communities matter.


The three-part harlem is. . . Music, Theater, and Dance series is in their beautiful gallery space outside the Herbert Cave Auditorium.

Each component of the series illuminates a different aspect of Harlem’s character and culture over the century weaving together research, interviews, and creative writing by young people with archival and contemporary elements. 


Its harlem is. . . Theater section celebrates the rich legacy of the Harlem theater movement from the founding of the African Grove Theatre in 1821 to the present and its legacy keepers. The harlem is. . . Music explores Harlem's unrivaled musical traditions from gospel to classical to jazz and hip honoring landmark institutions and current day legacy keepers. The harlem is. . .  Dance portion honors the contributions of four significant dance pioneers Marie Brooks, Ruth Williams, Dele Husbands, and Loretta Abbot.  

An introductory video puts the exhibition into historical context.


On the lower level in the magnificent Mural Pavilion lives the exhibition’s 30-foot timeline featuring archival images, photography, and text honoring Harlem’s cultural history over the century, proudly alongside the historic and beautiful and renowned WPA murals.


The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Community Works’ Board Chairman Michael Davidson.

It was designed by Whirlwind Creative and features contemporary photos by Ruth Morgan. 

Harlem Hospital 

506 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Boulevard at 136th Street.

Enter at 136th Street entrance. Exhibit, 2nd floor.


Hours: Tuesdays 10am-2pm; Thursdays & Saturdays 12pm-4pm

Admission: Free

Group Visits: By appointments. Email  or calling 917-757-2242 and to make arrangements.

Website: is the digital home of harlem is. . .  where you can explore other parts of the harlem is. . .  exhibition series, view our programming schedule, watch our videos, and download curriculum and other informational materials.


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harlem is... MUSIC  section of exhibition

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harlem is... THEATER  section of exhibition


Music Honorees:

Bill Saxton

Lonnie Youngblood

Craig Harris

Doug E. Fresh

Ed Babb

Roberta Long

Chuck Jackson


Gloria Lynne

Max Roach

Impact Repertory Theater

Olu Dara

Theater Honorees:

George Faison and Tad Schnugg

Firehouse Theatre

Stephanie Berry and John Martin Green

Blackberry Productions

Ray Gaspard

Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center

Woodie King Jr.

New Federal Theatre

James Pringle

The Harlem Theatre Company

Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro

The Mama Foundation

Voza Rivers and Jamal Joseph, New Heritage Theatre Group

Debra Ann Byrd

Take Wing and Soar Productions, Ty Jones

Classical Theatre of Harlem, Gertrude Jeannette

The H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players

Barbara Ann Teer

National Black Theatre

Garland Lee Thompson

The Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop

Dance Honorees

Olabamidele Husbands

Marie Brooks

Ruth Williams

Loretta Abbott

Music Institutions


The Apollo Theater

New Amsterdam Music Association

The Harlem School for the Arts

Raíces Latin Music Collection at Boys and Girls Harbor,



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