THE AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM IN PHILADELPHIA PRESENTS
COME SEE ABOUT ME
The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection
Presented in cooperation with Blair-Murrah Exhibitions
An exhibit made possible by funds received from the PNC Foundation through PNC Arts Alive
PHILADELPHIA – (August 8, 2012) Nearly a half-century after American female singing group, the Supremes, conquered the airwaves and rose to international stardom, the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP), in cooperation with Blair-Murrah Exhibitions, will celebrate the group’s historic imprint on American culture, women’s history, music, and fashion through a ground-breaking new exhibit. "Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection" will feature over thirty of the Supremes’ most glamorous gowns.
“Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection" is a showcase conceived by Mary Wilson, an original member of the Supremes. In addition to the group’s stunning gowns, “Come See About Me” will feature rarely seen video footage, gold records and album covers, historic photographs, and contemporary magazine and news articles. Wilson’s determined journey towards self-actualization—a story of universal relevance for women of all ages and backgrounds—will be a key theme of the presentation as well.
AAMP President and CEO Romona Riscoe Benson states, “The Supremes' legacy changed the face of music and we are thrilled to host Mary Wilson’s exhibit, including the many costumes she has preserved over the years. The Supremes and their music are a significant part of American history and we are proud to partner with PNC to present it to Philadelphia’s residents and visitors. We look forward to offering a wide variety of special events, educational programs and fun-filled activities relating to the exhibit that everyone will enjoy.”
Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, noted expert in popular culture including music, and professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University, has been engaged as the guest curator for the exhibit. Dr. Neal, author of five books, is a frequent commentator for National Public Radio and contributes to a number of online media outlets, among them Huffington Post Black Voices, Ebony.com and SeeingBlack.com.
“The gowns tell the story of an important era: the Supremes and the society that the Supremes helped to transform. The Supremes embodied style, class and integrity at a time when those were some of the only things that African-Americans could legitimately claim in American society. The grace and confidence that the Supremes personified would inspire a nation and continue to serve as a shining example of modern Black womanhood—American womanhood,” says Dr. Neal.
"Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Legacy Collection" was made possible by a PNC Arts Alive grant. This is a very prestigious grant award. In 2012, only twenty-five arts organizations in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region were selected for bold thinking around increasing arts access and engagement and AAMP was one.
“The PNC Foundation has a long history of providing grants to non-profit organizations that strengthen and enrich the lives of our neighbors,” said Bill Mills, regional president of PNC for Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “We understand the valuable return that investing in the arts can deliver. Today more than ever, the businesses we attract, the jobs we create and the visitors who extend their stay are drawn by what the Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region has to offer.”
The exhibit will be supported by extensive programming including concerts, celebrity appearances, fashion shows, and various other specialized activities. AAMP and PNC will make an official media announcement on October 10, 2012. For more information about the “Come See About Me” exhibit, please visit http://aampmuseum.org/.
ABOUT THE AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM OF PHILADELPHIA
Founded in 1976 in celebration of the nation's Bicentennial, the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is the first institution funded and built by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. Throughout its evolution, the museum has objectively interpreted and presented the achievements and aspirations of African Americans from pre-colonial times to the current day.
AAMP collects and preserves art and artifacts and, through exhibitions and programs, interprets the history and stories of African Americans and those of the African Diaspora. The museum enriches the lives of all visitors, especially children and youth, through experiences that enlighten them culturally and intellectually. AAMP is a gathering place, a forum for broader community engagement, and a partner for collaborations with historical and cultural institutions.
ABOUT PNC ARTS ALIVE
PNC Arts Alive is a five-year, $5 million initiative from the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). The goal of PNC Arts Alive is to help area residents gain access to the arts and to help arts organizations expand and engage audiences. For more information on PNC Arts Alive and the grant recipients visit www.PNCARTSALIVE.com
- “Come See About Me”is a collection conceived by Mary Wilson, an original member of The Supremes.
- Curated by the African American Museum in Philadelphia, this dynamic exhibit will run from January through June 2013.
The exhibit features the Supremes’ historic imprint on:
- American pop culture of the 1960s – 1970s
- Women’s empowerment and history
- African American history and culture
- More than thirty of the Supremes’ most glamorous gowns are the centerpiece for an exhibit that includes rare video footage, album covers, and other three-dimensional artifacts.
· The exhibit will occupy a 5,000 square foot imprint.
· The exhibit is expected to attract audiences within a 200-mile radius, spanning from New York City to Washington, DC.
· Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, an expert in African American music history and pop culture, has been contracted as the Guest Curator. He is a Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University in Durham, NC.
Important Dates To Remember (Partial Listing – subject to change)
· AAMP and PNC official media announcement – October 10, 2012
· Mary Wilson Concert at World Live Café – TBD
· Opening Reception – January 25, 2013
· AAMP Heritage Gala – March 14, 2013
· AAMP’s Annual Jazz ‘til Sunrise Program – April, 2013
· Mary Wilson’s Book Signing – May, 2013
Frequently asked questions
“Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection”is a new exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) that will celebrate the Supremes’ historic imprint on American culture, women’s history, music and fashion. This groundbreaking exhibit features over thirty of the Supremes’ most glamorous gowns along with rarely seen video footage, album covers, and historic photos.
Who were the Supremes?
The Supremes was an American female singing group and the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. They were the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and are, to date, America's most successful vocal group with twelve number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Most of these hits were written and produced by Motown's main songwriting and production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity.
What role did the Supremes play in American history and culture?
Their fame as a "cross-over group" was achieved as the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s reached international prominence. Their success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success. Before the Supremes rose to fame, African American female groups had not been given the opportunity to consistently shine in the mainstream spotlight.
Is this the first time that these gowns have been on display to the public?
The African American Museum in Philadelphia is the curator for this special customized exhibit. Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of Black Popular Music and Culture at Duke University and an expert on the subject matter is the guest curator. Selected Supremes’ gowns have been presented before in other venues, most recently in Europe, but this is the first time they will be displayed as part of a comprehensive exhibition that features themes that go beyond fashion and music.
What are the main themes behind this exhibit?
“Come See About Me” showcases fashion and costume design, music history, American popular culture, and African American history. The group’s role in breaking racial barriers and as pioneers in “cross-over music” during the tumultuous civil rights era is also explored. In addition, “Come See About Me” addresses Mary Wilson’s journey to self-actualization with programs that encourage self-esteem in women and young girls, and women’s empowerment.
Is the African American Museum in Philadelphia the only location where “Come See About Me” will be displayed?
The complete “Come See About Me” exhibit will be presented at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia International Airport, Macy's, the Independence Visitor Center, and Philadelphia City Hall will be among the other locations that partner with the African American Museum in Philadelphia to present smaller satellite displays.
Who are the intended visitors for this exhibit?
The broad range of themes is expected to draw music enthusiasts, baby boomers, history buffs, and fashion lovers. The topics are an excellent basis for inter-generational discussion.
When does the exhibit officially open?
January 25, 2013 is the official public opening. The exhibit will run for five months, through the end of July 2013. Please check AAMP’s website for updates on special programs, activities, and schedules. www.aampmuseum.org.
Is Mary Wilson available for interviews?
Ms. Wilson will be available for interviews. Please contact Roz McPherson for scheduling. email@example.com 215-564-6151 (Office) or 215-756-3222 (Mobile)