Taking the Stage explores the history of African Americans in theater, film, and television to celebrate their creative achievements, demonstrate their cultural impact, and illuminate their struggles for artistic freedom and equal representation.

Located in the 4th Floor Culture Galleries, Taking the Stage provides visitors with the opportunity to reconnect with some of their favorite popular culture memories as well as to contemplate how the roles black artists played on the stage and screen reflected changing aspirations, struggles, and realities for black people in American society.

Throughout the exhibition, visitors see how African Americans have acted to shape and transform the ways they are represented onstage by challenging racial discrimination and stereotypes and producing more diverse images of African American identity and experience. Together these stories suggest how, in taking the stage to express their creative talents, artistic visions, and cultural identities, African Americans have been a force for freedom and social change.