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Past Exhibits

Penumbra Theatre at 40

By March 1, 2017September 16th, 2023No Comments

Through July 30, 2017

What: Penumbra Theatre at 40: Art, Race, and a Nation on Stage
When: February 18 through July 30, 2017
Where: Minnesota History Center
Hours and Directions:

The exhibit features materials from the University Libraries’ Givens Collection of African American Literature. 

Penumbra Theatre at 40For 40 years Penumbra Theatre has illuminated the power, potency, and pride of black life and culture. Founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy, Penumbra activates social change through extraordinary art, education, and community programs authentically grounded in the African American experience. Celebrated both locally and nationally, the theater has launched the careers of many respected playwrights and introduced Minnesota audiences to 34 premier voices, including two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson. Penumbra’s role in shaping the ecology of Twin Cities’ arts is immeasurable: in 1976, black artists were relegated to small or stereotypical roles – today, black talent can be seen on professional stages throughout Minnesota.

Opening in February 2017, the Penumbra Theatre at 40 exhibit commemorates Penumbra’s 40th anniversary with a rare, behind- the-scenes look at the tenacity, vision, and talent that made this art come alive. Celebrate the nation’s largest and preeminent African American theater company, right in your backyard. See the original scripts, props, costumes, set pieces, and photographs that document the epic journey of this company and the people who sustain it. Dig deep and join Penumbra Theatre in its unwavering commitment to artistic excellence and social justice.

Inside the exhibit, you can:

  • Step into a set from the play Fences by August Wilson
  • Sit at a dressing room table and hear Penumbra actors share their favorite stories
  • View theater artifacts, including costumes, playbills, props and set models
  • Color in costumes and sets at the art table
  • Discover the stories behind some of Penumbra’s most beloved plays

Partnering organizations

Penumbra Theatre at 40 is organized by the Minnesota History Center in partnership with Penumbra Theatre Company, the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries, and Umbra Search African American History. Funding for this exhibit is made possible in part by the Legacy Amendment, thanks to the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008, who provided a gift for future generations.

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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