The current Baltimore Museum of Art exhibition about hip hop culture will live on after it completes an international tour in 2025.
The BMA and the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) announced this week that “For the Record,” the digital interactive archive launched in conjunction with “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century,” will get a permanent home at the Atlanta University Center’s (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library following the completion of its five venue tour.
The AUC Woodruff Library is considered the world’s largest consortium of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) – consisting of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center — and is committed to advancing scholarship about the history and global influence of hip hop.
According to the BMA and SLAM, which co-organized the exhibit, “For the Record” was developed in recognition of hip hop’s roots in local community and its global reach to collect, share and preserve personal stories of hip hop in a “living digital interactive archive.”
The project was launched with Baltimore-based photographer Devin Allen interviewing local musicians, poets and writers about their hip hop memories. Since then, more than 200 artists, musicians, fashion designers, actors and hip hop lovers of all backgrounds and ages have contributed photographs, videos and audio reflections, documenting concerts, community gatherings and memorabilia.
The contributions started coming in during the show’s presentation at the BMA, which began April 5 and runs until July 16. More content will be added as the exhibition travels to other locations. The digital interactive archive provides additional context and perspectives to the more than 90 objects featured in the exhibition that celebrate hip hop’s impact on art, fashion, and culture.
After July 16, “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century” will travel to the Saint Louis Art Museum in Missouri (August 19, 2023 to January 1, 2024); the Schirn Kunstalle Frankfurt in Germany (February 22 to May 26, 2024); the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio (June 28 to September 29, 2024); and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada (in the fall 2024).
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of hip hop’s founding, The Culture celebrates the extraordinary influence of hip hop on contemporary art, fashion, and culture with more than 90 works of art by some of today’s most important and celebrated artists such as Derrick Adams, Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as several with ties to Baltimore. Their works are presented along with fashion and objects created and made famous by Lil’ Kim, Dapper Dan and Gucci, and Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, along with iconic brands such as Cross Colours and TELFAR.
“The Culture” is co-curated by Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director; Gamynne Guillotte, former BMA Chief Education Officer; Hannah Klemm, SLAM’s Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; and Andréa Purnell, SLAM’s Audience Development Manager.
Additional archive contributions can be made online at theculturearchive.org. Once it arrives at the Woodruff Library, the collection will enter the digital archives, preserving the public contributions in perpetuity.
“Expanding access to these exhibited resources that document hip hop culture is essential,” said Loretta Parham, CEO and director of the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library, in a statement.
“The AUC Woodruff Library is honored to be the recipient of the collection and to provide the care and services necessary to assure that these primary resources are available for research, scholarship, teaching, and general interest.”
“It was very important to us that these personal stories of hip hop history and culture found a permanent home and equally important that they be preserved by an HBCU,” said Verónica Betancourt, Interim Chief Education Officer at the BMA.
“Woodruff Library is a perfect partner as it has a publicly accessible online archive and is dedicated to expanding hip hop scholarship. We are delighted to advance this partnership and thank Woodruff Library leadership for sharing in our vision for this digital collection.”
“We are grateful to the Woodruff Library for recognizing that community and storytelling are central to the ethos of hip hop,” said Andréa Purnell, SLAM’s audience development manager and co-curator of The Culture.
“Long after the exhibition closes, the ‘For the Record’ archive will ensure that these personal narratives will live on and continue to inform, educate, and inspire future generations.”