“The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century,” is the name of the exhibition that was opened at The Baltimore Museum of Art in April 2023. The exhibition treats hip hop’s roots, impact, and essential figures with the same intellectual rigor and prestige it would a presentation of ancient Egypt, Greece, or Rome. Rightly so. In their time, that was “the culture.” Today, hip-hop is “the culture.”
As Forbes notes, not a niche. Not a sub-culture. The culture.
The magazine adds that as such, it deserves and demands study and display in those spaces designed to preserve and highlight culture: museums. Preeminent museums like the BMA, where the exhibition will be on view through July 16, 2023, and the Saint Louis Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Art Gallery of Ontario where it will travel in turn.
According to Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Chief Curator and Interim Co-Director who co-curated the exhibition, “Hip hop’s influence is so significant that it has become the new canon—an alternate set of ideals of artistic beauty and excellence centered around the Afro-Latinx identities and histories—and one that rivals the Western art historical canon around which many museums orient and develop exhibitions.”