The Studio Museum in Harlem’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

October 2018. New York City, Park Avenue Armory

On October 18, 2018, Empire served as the producer of The Studio Museum in Harlem’s 50th anniversary celebration, with artistic direction by Red Maple Leaf. The annual Gala took place at the historic Park Avenue Armory in New York City with over 800 artists, philanthropists, cultural leaders, civic leaders, and business leaders in attendance, to celebrate the Studio Museum’s important role in promoting the work of artists of African descent as the Museum prepares to construct a new home at its longtime location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street.

Guests made their way to cocktails by walking through some of the Armory’s historic and magnificent reception rooms. Upon entering the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, one of the largest unobstructed spaces in New York City, guests’ attention was drawn to a statement floral installation located in the middle of the cocktail space, surrounded by highboys with matching centerpieces and black sequin linens.

To signal the start of dinner, 30-foot high drapes were pulled back to reveal the rest of the Drill Hall. Guests were invited to the dinner space with a swell in music performed live by JukeBox Atlanta. A grand stage with sheer drape and long hanging crystal garlands, flanking screens, and tall statement centerpieces highlighted by pinspots on each table also drew the guests’ attention to dinner.

The evening’s program featured remarks by Co-Chairs Jacqueline L. Bradley, Kathryn C. Chenault, Carol Sutton Lewis, and Dr. Amelia Ogunlesi; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator; and Raymond J. McGuire, Chairman of the Board. First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray presented the Studio Museum with a Mayoral Proclamation to commemorate the Museum’s historic 50 year legacy. The 13th annual Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, supported by George Wein, was presented to Los Angeles-based artist Diedrick Brackens, confirming the rise of a boundary-defying young artist who has emerged within only the past seven years. Nancy Lane, a long-time member of the Studio Museum’s Board of Trustees and currently the Chair of the Acquisition Committee, Co-Chair of the Building Committee, Chair of the Program and Collection Committee, and a member of the Nominating Committee, was also recognized that evening.

The evening ended with dancing on the sleek black dance floor to another live set by Jukebox Atlanta, and desserts in what was previously the cocktails space.

The Gala raised over $4 million in support of the Studio Museum’s operating costs, including key initiatives such as the collaborative, community-enriching inHarlem exhibitions and programs.

Empire was proud to work closely with the Studio Museum and Red Maple Leaf teams to deliver a flawless and memorable evening for The Studio Museum in Harlem.

For more information on The Studio Museum in Harlem, please visit

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