The Metropolitan Museum of Art literally gives way to the real and lived history of Seneca Village, the once thriving community founded by free black New Yorkers that existed a few hundred yards west of the Met between the 1820s and 1850s .
The period rooms inside the museum featured delicate furniture and artifacts from the European Rococo era to the American Federalist style, but now they will include a permanent room that represents Afrofuturism – the African and African diasporic belief. that the past, present and future are interconnected.
The space, designed and designed by chief curator and designer Hannah Beachler (known for her work on Black Panther and Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” video) and lead exhibit designer Fabiana Weinberg, features a 19th-century wood-frame house that contains works from the American Wing of the Met reminiscent of pot shards and the remains of the village of Seneca which were found in 2011. Representing the future with the past in mind, artwork and design from the Modern and Contemporary Art Department are dotted throughout the space along with contemporary furnishings, photographs and ceramics alongside the Michael C. Rockefeller wing of the Met.
“Before Yesterday We Could Fly” also features recent acquisitions made specifically for the project, including works by Ini Archibong, Andile Dyalvane, Yinka Ilori, Cyrus Kabiru, Roberto Lugo, Chuma Maweni, Zizipho Poswa, Jomo Tariku, Tourmaline and Atang Tshikare. There is also entertainment by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Fabiola Jean-Louis and Jenn Nkiru.
Its title is inspired by Virginia Hamilton’s accounts of the “Flying African” tale, which celebrates the imaginations of slave peoples, the creative uses of flight, and the importance of spirituality and mysticism to black communities in the midst of great uncertainty, according to the Met.
The period room “celebrates the ingenuity, artistry and determination of people of African descent and reconfigures the way we think about space, place and time,” says consulting curator Michelle Commander. The untold story of Seneca Village emphasizes that we are walking on sacred ground right here in New York City. Aspects of our history often fall out of the conversation with the passage of time. In other cases, they actually have been. buried or intentionally silenced. When these important stories resurface, we must show reverence for those who have come before us and whose lives and sacrifices have paved the way for our very being. educated speculation, we imagine what was, what could have been and what still has to be. “
“Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room “is now open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Gallery 508 on the first floor.