January 2021 - December 2022
To mark the 50th anniversary of The Bronx Museum of the Arts, we celebrate the cultural wealth of our communities and bring to light the stories, voices, and visions of artists seeking a more just and equitable world.
For 50 years The Bronx Museum of the Arts has championed the people of the Bronx, dedicating itself to sharing the rich, local culture that has influenced contemporary artists and audiences across the city and beyond. Founded in 1971 by community leaders and activists at a time when the borough was in crisis - in our 50th year, we recommit ourselves to our founding ethos and renew our investment in our local communities, people of color, women, LGBTQIA, and belief that art and culture are essential on the path to achieving social justice and equity.
In our anniversary year, we embrace artistic voices of the past, present, and future to facilitate visibility, encourage criticality, and celebrate diverse perspectives in contemporary art. Exhibitions will range from groundbreaking solo presentations of artists including Shaun Leonardo and Wardell Milan to group exhibitions exploring themes of Futurism and Ballroom culture, and highlighting new perspectives from emerging artists. The Museum’s unique permanent collection will be activated through community and youth input and programs - inviting the people of the Bronx to select and interpret works from the collection. Black Lives Matter, women and femme artists are underrepresented in cultural institutions, and indigenous and immigrant culture is the foundation of our society - the Museum’s half-century anniversary will amplify these voices and visions through exhibitions and programs that reflect our communities, our histories, our struggles, and visions for a better future. In our 50th year we declare our solidarity and act upon it.
About the Museum
Founded in 1971 in the Bronx County Courthouse, in 1982 the Museum moved to its current space on the Grand Concourse, managing to grow in programming and community impact at a time the borough was struggling with extreme poverty, redlining, and racist and anti-immigrant urban development policies. In 1986, the Museum began collecting works on paper by artists of African, Asian and Latin American ancestry to reflect the borough's dynamic communities, a policy that was adapted in 1992 to include works in all media. Recognizing the Bronx’s cultural heritage—including the birth of artistic movements such as hip hop, graffiti art and Latin Jazz, that served as inspiration to many contemporary artists—in 1999 the Museum expanded its collecting practice to include works by artists for whom the Bronx has been critical to their artistic practice and development. Currently the Museum owns over 1,500 contemporary artworks in all media, including drawings, paintings, sculpture, installation, photography, and video.
In the last two decades, the Museum has embraced its role as the sole contemporary art museum in the borough - prioritizing programming reflective of the Bronx’s dynamic communities, engaging culturally diverse artists, developing inclusive programming, and providing underserved residents access to the arts. More than half the Museum’s annual visitors are Latino (primarily Puerto Rican and Dominican) and African American, with a growing percentage of visitors from immigrant communities from Central America and West Africa. Situated in communities faced with systemic economic struggles, the Museum prioritizes access and inclusion. In 2012 we launched our Universal Free Admission Policy and expanded our Bronx-focused programs. The Museum remains one of the only cultural institutions in New York City that has removed economic barriers to entry and participation in programs.