Current Exhibitions

Ralph Ellison: A Man and His Records

On the centennial of his birth, we are proud to open a new exhibition, Ralph Ellison: A Man and His Records. An interactive kiosk containing new interviews, rarely seen film clips, and other media that amplify Ellison’s achievements is surrounded by a large exhibit space containing hundreds of images imaginatively merged with Ellison’s text that bring his work vividly to life. A core element of the exhibit is Ellison’s collection of recordings that informed all of his work, specifically Invisible Man. These were acquired by the museum in 2007. The exhibit was curated by a team of Ellison experts: Stanley Crouch, Professor Robert G. O’Meally and Paul Devlin, as well as the NJMH’s Artistic Director Loren Schoenberg and Archivist Ryan Maloney. The innovative design was created by Tad Hershorn, of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, who also joined the curatorial team.

Visit the interactive online supplement to the Ellison exhibit here >

Listen to NJMH Artistic Director Loren Schoenberg talk about the exhibit on WNYC’s Soundcheck with John Schaefer here >

View the New Yorker piece by Richard Brody on the exhibit here >

In our permanent collection:

A photo exhibit by the museum’s award-winning photographer, Richard Conde. These compelling images were taken at the museum’s Harlem in The Himalayas series, now in its eight year. The subjects include violinist Billy Bang, pianists Renee Rosnes and Craig Taborn, drummers Paul Motian and Cindy Blackman, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and bassist Linda Oh and more.

Edward Berger has contributed a sterling set of photographs that show the hands of great musicians. Many visitors get a kick out of trying to identify who they belong! These images stand on their own as art, but also help focus attention on the digits that actually manipulate the instruments that create the sounds we love. Artists include Victor Wooten, Randy Weston and Candido.

The famous Great Day in Harlem photograph taken by Art Kane in 1958 for Esquire Magazine faces the Conde exhibit, creating a visual conversation between the generations. Jean Bach’s Academy-Award nominated documentary on the photo is available for viewing in our multi-media kiosk, as are many other DVD’s.

Our internationally acclaimed Savory Collection is represented through one of the actual discs that was buried for 70 years before we uncovered it – a 1939 broadcast of Louis Armstrong playing What Is This Thing Called Swing. In addition, there are rare images of the mysterious Bill Savory, and autographed photos by Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and others.

We have a Steinway piano that was a gift from the family of the late Dick Katz, a premier jazz pianist and author. You never know who might be playing it during the day; visiting professionals, young students, or possibly our Artistic Director Jonathan Batiste!

There are other photo exhibits, interesting objects, including original LP covers, but most visitors settle down for a relaxing time in our library. Our permanent collections has several thousand books, magazines, and audio/visual items, and we have selected some of the best items for our visitors to enjoy at their leisure.

Add to that docents who will give you a personal tour and you have the museum’s Visitors Center. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!