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The Brooklyn Museum's Love Letter to the Borough

The Brooklyn Museum celebrates 25 years of First Saturdays with live performances highlighting the legacy of Black Brooklyn-based creatives.
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The Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Google Maps.

In honor of Black History Month, The Brooklyn Museum's First Saturday explored the theme "Legacy," reports The New York Times. The theme highlighted the creative influence of Black Brooklynites through live performances, poetry readings, curator-led art talks, a film screening and an artisanal marketplace.

“It’s a place where people — I’ve heard this from many visitors and many artists — where they feel affirmed, they feel seen, they feel reflected by the art on the walls, as well as the programming that we have,” said Lauren Argentina Zelaya, the museum's Director of Public Programs.

Zelaya is just one of many locals who refer to First Saturdays as a love letter to Brooklyn. For over 25 years, the event has consistently amplified the creative excellence of the borough and has welcomed over 1.5 million visitors.

This month’s First Saturdays event showcased music performed by Yaya Bey and “A Mother’s Rite,” a ballet created as part of the choreographer Jeremy McQueen’s Black Iris Project.

“Because it’s free, it opens up the space for people who otherwise can’t walk into certain gallery spaces without being side-eyed,” said Bey, a former Brooklyn Children’s Museum art educator who now writes music that explores themes of Black femininity and generational trauma.

In a similar light, choreographer Jeremy McQueen’s work also explores Black femininity as he uses dance to explore a mother’s stages of grief after losing her son to police brutality.

“I’m always focused on ways that I can expose ballet to new audiences and creating knowledge that are rooted in our culture, our history, our stories,” McQueen said.

Each performance honored historical figures and the trials and tribulations Black people face.

To many Brooklynites, First Saturdays are a creative forum for creatives to take up space. The event reflects the museum’s values, especially as work to increase equity and inclusivity in the arts is ongoing. For more information on First Saturdays, click here.