6 Art Events Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in New York and Beyond
The civil rights leader gets a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, among other timely events.
The US has celebrated the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day since 1986. The federal holiday honors the civil rights activist, known for his dedication to nonviolent civil disobedience and powerful oration. Since his assassination in 1968, King’s legacy has remained a powerful force in American society. In honor of his invaluable work toward equality, here are some events and exhibitions to visit at area museums and cultural institutions this weekend.
Friday, January 12 and Saturday, January 13
1. “6th Annual Black Comic Book Festival” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Once again, the annual Black Comic Book Festival, now in its sixth edition, is being held at the New York Public Library over the holiday weekend. According to the event description, “this year’s highlights will include panels and discussion on topics including diversity and social justice in comics, black comics in digital spaces, black masculinity in comic books, and much, much more.”
Location: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard
Time: Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6:45 p.m.
Saturday, January 13
2. MLK Day Party for “Doreen Garner’s Invisible Man Tattoo” at Recess
As Recess debuts its new home, it has been transformed into a pop-up tattoo parlor, with artist Doreen Garner inking patrons with designs that aim to bring to light the exploitation of black bodies, from the time of slavery through to the present day. The tattoos are free for “brown and black” visitors, in exchange for recording a video diary discussing the significance of their new ink. (Garner is a licensed tattoo artist.) The exhibition is on view through March 4, but Garner is unveiling a new Martin Luther King tattoo at this weekend’s party.
Location: Recess, 46 Washington Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Price: Free with RSVP
Time: 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.; Thursday, 2 p.m.–8 p.m.; tattoo appointments, Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday, January 13–Sunday, June 1
3. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Museum of the City of New York
To honor King, the Museum of the City of New York will host a special day of family programs on Monday, January 15. Museum-goers can enjoy the brand new “King in New York” exhibition, chronicling the time he spent in the city. Pair your visit with a return to the ongoing “Activist New York” show, which traces the city’s history of agitation, from the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter.
Location: Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at East 103rd Street
Price: Free with general admission; $18 adults
Time: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Monday, January 15
4. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at the Newark Museum
The Newark Museum’s annual MLK festivities include a tribute to the civil rights movement from the Premiere Dance Theatre Company of Montclair, family activities, an MLK-themed scavenger hunt/gallery tour, and multiple screenings of the famed “I Have a Dream” speech. At 1 p.m., catch the film I Shall Not Be Silent, a documentary about Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a European refugee who equated the persecution of the Jews with the oppression of African Americans, becoming one of King’s activist allies.
Location: Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey
Time: 12 p.m.–5 p.m.
Through Monday, January 15
5. “Fictions” at the Studio Museum in Harlem
Make a last pilgrimage to the Studio Museum in Harlem before it closes for construction until 2021, while the institution builds a new home from Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye and his firm Adjaye Associates. Among its final slate of shows is the fifth in a series of exhibitions dedicated to emerging artists of African descent, featuring the likes of newly minted Michelle Obama portraitist Amy Sherald, 2016 PULSE Prize winner Devan Shimoyama, and Sherrill Roland, who channeled a wrongful conviction into his performance art piece The Jumpsuit Project.
Location: The Studio Museum in Harlem, 125th Street
Price: Free with general admission; $18 adults
Time: Tour Monday, January 15, 3 p.m.; 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
6. “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017” at the Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney has mined its collections for works that demonstrate how artists can double as activists, creating critical, instructive, and inspirational works that serve as commentary on society. The civil rights movement, of course, plays a crucial role in the exhibition.
Location: The Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street
Time: Tour Monday, January 15, 3 p.m.; Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.