The New-York Historical Society To Inaugurate a New Gallery Celebrating American Civil Rights Through the Centuries, Opening November 11 As Part of the Institution's Transformative Renovation
Opening Exhibition of Large-Scale Contemporary Images by the Acclaimed Photographer Platon Brings the Decisive Struggle of the 1950s and '60s Into the Present
NEW YORK, NY, September 14, 2011 — When the New-York Historical Society re-opens on November 11, 2011 after a transformative $70 million renovation, a gallery dedicated to the history of American civil rights over the centuries will be among the new features. Scheduled to present three exhibitions a year, the new gallery will open with Freedom Now: Photographs by Platon, an installation of large-scale images by the celebrated photographer that give the historic struggle of the 1950s and 1960s a stirring contemporary presence.
Julian Bond—statesman, professor, writer and a leader in the Civil Rights movement—will write a personal introduction to the exhibition.
Among the works to be shown, in an installation designed by New-York Historical’s award-winning exhibition team, are fourteen of Platon’s acclaimed portrait photographs—moving present-day images of men and women who participated in different aspects of the Civil Rights movement. Among the subjects of the photographs are the Little Rock Nine, whose attempt to enter Little Rock Central High School in 1957 became a national cause celebre; Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain, participants in the 1960 Greensboro lunch-counter sit-in; Southern Christian Leadership Conference members Joseph Lowery, Fred Shuttlesworth, C.T. Vivian and Andrew Young; Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee leaders James Lawson, Robert Moses and Diane Nash; Chris and Maxine McNair, parents of Denise McNair, murdered in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church; Black Panthers Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas and Bobby Rush; Muhammad Ali; Harry Belafonte; Congressman John Lewis; and Jesse Jackson, Sr.
Also on view will be Platon’s photographs of objects and places associated with the Civil Rights movement. These include the cell where Dr. King wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, one of the armored cars used by the Birmingham police in their attempt to intimidate civil rights demonstrators, and a Ku Klux Klan uniform.
“Many of us are familiar with the people and objects in these photographs,” stated Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “But their display within the walls of a history museum and library, especially this year as we commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial, provide a special overlay: that is, that the story of the battle for freedom and equality in this nation still raged a century after emancipation.”
A British-born photographer who now lives and works in the United States, Platon has won international praise for the psychological penetration of his portrait photographs. His work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, Time magazine, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Newsweek. His portrait of Vladimir Putin, then President of the Russian Federation, won First Prize in 2007 in the World Press Photo Contest.
This project is supported by a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Lincoln and New York; The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society; and