NEWARK, NJ — The Newark Art Museum celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. in a day of theatrical performances, dance, art and more in the Reverend’s honor.
The museum attracted an estimated 1,500 people who had the option of viewing the "I Have a Dream" speech on a continuous loop, engage in hands-on art making, planetarium shows and tour the galleries.
Museum Deputy Director Deborah Kasindorf says the celebration has grown each year, and with it a greater diversity of all diasporas which is Intentional because the museum content is intended for all communities.
“It’s a day off for a lot of people but they also specifically are coming here today to either celebrate, reflect, learn more or teach their kids what the day is about,” Kasindorf said. “A couple of years ago when we had long lines, I said to people, ‘If you can’t get to everything today, come back next Saturday,’ and they will but it’s really important that they come today.
“It’s gratifying that we are a really deliberate choice for people,” Kasindorf said.
New additions to this year’s celebration included the story readings in the Ballantine House Introductory Gallery, as well as a new partnership with Yendor Theatre which offered gallery and theatrical performances.
Museum staff works to ensure material is creative in teaching context around the famous civil rights activist. Most museum visitors, for example, have seen video clips of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, but museum offerings lent guests a deeper understanding of how the Reverend was viewed by others and the degree of courage he had.
“I think it’s (the museum celebration) partially fulfilling his dream. Keeping his dream alive, keeping it in our minds, making sure we don’t forget what happened because it’s a big deal,” said Sandra N. of South Orange. “I think when we come to events like this, it only helps to reinforce what we already know, what we still dream of, what we still have to fight for.”
“It’s a long fight, it’s a hard fight but I guess we just gotta keep doing more for ourselves.It reminds you that you gotta do more for yourself. It makes you work harder toward what you want to do as a person and maybe to help other people,” she said.
By the late afternoon, crowds packed the first floor to catch glimpse of Premiere Dance Theatre members engage in a dance performance devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr.