Black History

Museum of Science and Industry celebrates 50th anniversary of historic black creativity program

Program features largest selection of African-American art in its history, introduces new exhibit, honors STEM innovators, and more


This year, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Black Creativity program, which honors African-American achievement in science, technology, engineering, art and medicine. The Museum is commemorating this milestone anniversary with a robust calendar of experiences and events throughout Black History Month.

“The achievements of African Americans are front and center during Black Creativity, from arts and industrial design, to medicine and film making,” said David Mosena, MSI’s president and chief executive officer. “As an institution that welcomes so many families and students, it’s critical to highlight the African-American leaders who are creating real change in their professional fields and within their communities, inspiring young people to add their own ideas to the legacy of African-American innovation.”

“Black Creativity” runs from Jan. 20–March 1 and is included in Museum Entry.

Celebrating 50 years

Black Creativity began in 1970 as a tribute to the culture, heritage and contributions of African Americans in the arts. It was conceived and organized by a group of local artists along with key staff members of the Chicago Defender. Initially called Black Esthetics, the early years captured the cultural pride among African Americans at the time, with the Juried Art Exhibition and live musical, dance and theatrical performances.

In 1984, the program was renamed Black Creativity and soon expanded to celebrate the contributions of African Americans in the sciences. New experiences were added, including an exhibit, educational programs and a gala to support the annual program.


MSI is introducing “Black Creativity: 50 Years,” a new exhibit that tells the story of the program’s significant moments and Chicagoans whose work pushed boundaries, including Charles Harrison, the designer of the View-Master, and Black Creativity founding collaborators Chicago Defender photographer Robert (Bobby) A. Sengstacke and artist Douglas A. Williams. Included with museum entry.

The 50th anniversary of the Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition, the nation’s longest running exhibition of African-American art, will showcase the most work in its history. Selected by a panel of jurors, the exhibition features more than 200 works by professional artists from across the nation, as well as local student artists. Winners receive a cash prize, and one student artist receives a scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Early College Program Summer Institute. Many artists whose work was previously shown have achieved critical acclaim, such as Hebru Brantley, Harmonia Rosales, Theaster Gates and Amanda Williams. Included with museum entry.

Black Creativity will again offer a range of education programs designed to expose African-American youth to career opportunities and deepen their engagement through hands-on learning.

* The Innovation Studio—Use design thinking to build an invention that helps a superhero! On weekdays, school groups learn about how to create a prototype and get hands on to invent their own device. The Innovation Studio also spotlights African-American leaders in STEM fields who are transforming Chicago. Open to the public on weekends. Included with museum entry.

* Career Showcase—The Career Showcase on Feb. 29 offers students and their families the chance to explore innovative careers by speaking with dozens of professionals in art, science and engineering stationed throughout the Museum for hands-on activities and one-on-one discussions. Included with museum entry


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