Dear Friends,

As many have discovered, The Newark Museum of Art (NMOA) is not your typical world-class museum. As director, I have the privilege of witnessing the power of human creativity transcend time, space, and difference to build belonging. And this past month brought some particularly moving examples.

On February 22, NMOA unveiled The Story of Newark Fashion: Atelier to Runway, an exhibition more than three years in the making showcasing Newark’s influential role in the fashion industry. Did you know we offered the world the first trans Black model? The designer of the wrap dress?

The exhibition, open until June 2, is gorgeous, spirited, and remarkable. The opening reception filled our galleries with that same energy – the NMOA community Turned. Out.

Guests came dressed for the occasion, but more poignantly, they brought genuine affection for one another, pride in our shared history, and support for the work of peers. All of the featured designers came with their families. Emotional remarks were shared, and tears were shed at the power of recognition. It felt like a cherished family reunion.

The exhibition sets the stage for our annual Art Ball on Saturday, May 4. Our theme is Versailles 1973, a nod to the legendary Battle of Versailles, a turning point in the fashion industry. Newark native Stephen Burrows’ talent and commitment to diversity brought down the house and changed the runway forever. We have lots of surprises in store, so please join us!

This year’s Art Ball will recognize two special honorees who exemplify what it means to build belonging. Dr. Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark has championed her institution’s responsibility as a civic partner and as an engine for racial equity and growth. Dr. Cantor will receive the inaugural Beatrice Winser Award, honoring the woman who helped establish the Newark Public Library and the Newark Museum of Art. Largely unknown, Winser was a pioneer in library and information science and fought for greater access for women in public life.

NMOA will also honor Willie Cole with the Artistic Impact Award. Cole’s powerful works of social commentary have been featured at galleries, universities and museums internationally – including several artworks in NMOA’s permanent collection. I am particularly proud that Willie Cole participated in art classes at the NMOA as a child and continues to be a part of Newark’s creative community.

Make plans to visit The Story of Newark Fashion. Mark your calendars for May 4th’s Art Ball. When we gather to wonder and to celebrate, we generate a special kind of power that is greater than any one of us alone. Let’s build belonging.

See you at the Museum!

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art