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LGBTQ+ Performing Arts Resources at the Library of Congress

Online Exhibitions

When physical exhibits display at the Library of Congress, an accompanying online exhibit is hosted on the Library's website. The Music Division has put on many exhibits throughout the years; some relevant exhibits are described in the entries below.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: 50 Years Cultural Ambassador to the World

Alvin Ailey (1931–1989) founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as a company dedicated to enriching American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience. This exhibition draws from the Music Division’s rich collections to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this acknowledged treasure of American modern dance. The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Archive was obtained by the Library in 2006 and is a multimedia collection relating to Ailey’s career and the development of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

A Century of Creativity - The MacDowell Colony 1907–2007

Since 1907, the MacDowell Colony has offered a creative sanctuary to artists, writers, and composers. Founded by American composer Edward MacDowell and his wife Marian, the Colony's underlying philosophy is that artists working in different disciplines can benefit from contact with one another. This exhibition, drawn from collections across the Library, provides an opportunity to appreciate the MacDowell experience, from its most recent fellows to its earliest colonists.

Serge Diaghilev and His World: A Centennial Celebration of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 1909–1929

Features material concerning the Ballets Russes, one of the most influential dance companies of the twentieth century. Most of the objects come from the Library's Bronislava Nijinska collection. Nijinska, sister of the legendary Ballets Russes member Vaslav Nijinsky, was also a dancer and a choreographer for the company. Objects include photographs of Diaghilev and members of the company, musical scores, production photographs, costume designs, dance notation manuscripts, souvenir programs, and posters.

Jazz Singers

What is a jazz singer? The answer can be as varied as the practitioners of the art form. This exhibit offers perspectives on the art of vocal jazz from the 1920s to the present. Drawn largely from the Library of Congress Music Division’s collections, including the photographs of William P. Gottlieb and the papers of Max Roach, Chet Baker, and Shirley Horn, among others, it features singers and song stylists from both on-stage and off. Rare video clips, photographic portraits, candid snapshots, musical scores, personal notes, correspondence, drawings, and watercolors reveal the sometimes exuberant, sometimes painful, but always vibrant art and life of jazz singers.

Molto Animato! Music and Animation

Molto Animato! Music and Animation explores the unparalleled collections in the Music; Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound; and Prints and Photographs divisions of the Library of Congress. Molto Animato (“very animated”), juxtaposes music scores, lyrics, and drawings with film clips and sound recordings to provide a glimpse into the intricate wedding of art forms that bring drawings to life. This exhibition provides a small sample of the Library’s treasures that demonstrate the magic of animation and the music that makes it come alive. Many of the materials were drawn from the Howard Ashman Collection.

Politics and the Dancing Body

Politics and the Dancing Body explores how American choreographers between World War I through the Cold War used dance to celebrate American culture, to voice social protest, and to raise social consciousness.  The exhibition also examines how the U.S. government employed dance as a vehicle for cultural diplomacy and to counter anti-American sentiment. Featuring materials drawn mostly from the rich dance, music, theater, and design collections of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, Politics and the Dancing Body demonstrates how dance was integral to the twentieth-century American cultural and political landscape.

West Side Story: Birth of a Classic

The West Side Story exhibition celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of this landmark musical. Drawn from the Library’s extensive Leonard Bernstein Collection, the exhibition offers a rare view into the creative process and collaboration involved in the making of this extraordinary production.