Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing:
How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment
On View at the Museum of the City of New York
February 8 – May 1, 2011
The first exhibition to explore the Apollo Theater’s seminal impact on American popular culture will be presented this spring at the Museum of the City of New York. The traveling exhibition, organized by the Apollo Theater and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, examines the rich history and cultural significance of the legendary Harlem theater, tracing the story from its origins as a segregated burlesque hall to its starring role at the epicenter of African American entertainment and American popular culture.
With a dazzling array of images, videos, costumes, artifacts, and text, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing brings to life many of the most groundbreaking personalities and moments in the history of music, while shining a spotlight on the impact of African-American artists on American culture. Highlights include Michael Jackson’s fedora, dresses worn by Ella and The Supremes, Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, Willie Nelson’s bandanna and sneakers, LL Cool J’s jacket, James Brown’s cape and jumpsuit, Sammy Davis’ childhood tap shoes, and Miles Davis’ flugelhorn (on public view for the first time).
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing was organized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the Apollo Theater Foundation. The exhibition’s national tour is made possible by a generous grant from Time Warner Inc. Additional funding is provided by J. P. Morgan. The exhibition’s national tour is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.