Penn Museum honors Marian Anderson with February events

Throughout February 2022, the Penn Museum, in partnership with the National Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society, pays tribute to the first black woman to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, contralto Marian Anderson.

Anderson performed at the Met in January 1955 and became a crucial figure in the civil rights movement. Events unfolding throughout the month provide the public with an opportunity to deepen their appreciation of the groundbreaking artist.

Beginning Feb. 7, the Penn Museum’s virtual book club, Between the Lines, will read and discuss Anderson’s “My Lord, What a Morning: An Autobiography.”

On Feb. 13, the National Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society will host a reading of “The Letters,” correspondence between Anderson and her husband that documents their 70-year romance. The Penn Museum will host the event at the Harrison Auditorium and music will accompany the reading.

Anderson’s merlot velvet dress is currently on display until June 12, 2022, as part of “The Stories We Wear” exhibit. Anderson has worn the dress throughout her career and it was likely designed by one of the first black fashion designers, Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes. Ella Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker wore Valdes’ designs.

“As one of the most significant historical figures of the 20th century for her exceptional musical talent and humanitarianism, Marian Anderson’s legacy is even more relevant and paramount to the current state of our country,” said Jillian Patricia Pirtle, CEO of the National Marian Anderson Museum and told the Historical Society in an official press release.

February 27 marks the singer’s 125th birthday.

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