Mon-Wed, noon-8pm; Thu-Fri, 11am-6pm; Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, closed
2, 3 at 135th St.
Coming of age during the Harlem Renaissance, this branch of the New York Public Library is dedicated to keeping the experiences of people of African descent alive. Situated near where Marcus Garvey preached African ideology, the collection has been combed through by trailblazers such as Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. The library still holds the original copy of Wright’s Native Son and Hughes’ ashes, which are buried beneath the Langston Hughes Atrium. Housed in the library is the now-closed American Negro Theater, where the likes of Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte honed their craft. While it still serves as an exhibition area, the theater has been replaced both in body and spirit by the 352-seat Langston Hughes Auditorium. Past performances have included a discussion with Nobel prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka, and a production launched by the former head of the Public Theater George C. Wolfe. Dedicated to keeping the legacy of slavery alive in cultural discourse, Schomburg’s exhibition Lest We Forget was selected by the United Nations as its traveling show to commemorate slavery in 2004. Much of the more than ten million pieces (manuscripts, art, artifacts, rare books, moving image, recorded sound and photographs) held in the library are available only on a research basis, so booking a guided tour may be the best option.