Photo: NYC Parks / Daniel Avila

In celebration of Black History Month, NYC Parks is pleased to announce the exhibition, “The NYC Parks Renaming Project: Celebrating Black Leaders,” now on view at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. The show highlights some of the parks and park features that the agency has recently renamed to honor the Black experience in New York City. This exhibition is presented by NYC Parks’ Art & Antiquities and Ebony Society and will be on view through February 28, 2022.

“This year’s Black History Month exhibition is a moving retrospective of our renewed effort to incorporate Black history into the fabric of our city,” said NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “With archival and recent photographs of more than a dozen newly named park spaces, the show helps to preserve the legacy of these influential people and places. It illustrates our ongoing work to make the park system more diverse and reflective of the people it serves.”

In June 2020, Parks pledged to demonstrate how it stands in solidarity with the Black community in its fight to combat systemic racism. Since then, the agency has named 28 parks spaces to acknowledge the legacies of Black Americans, encourage discourse about their contributions, and work to make the park system more diverse and reflective of the people it serves. The newly named park spaces feature some of the most recognizable names in African American history, as well as local community leaders and pioneers in the arts, culture, education, sports and more.

The gallery exhibition focuses on a selection of the 28 sites, including Gil Scott-Heron Amphitheater in St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Constance Baker Motley Recreation Center in Manhattan, Malcolm X Promenade in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, and Sandy Ground Woods in Fairview Park in Staten Island. Historical images from the NYC Parks Photo Archive and other collections are placed alongside contemporary photographs, and accompanying texts detail the park histories and biographies of the honored individuals.

To enter the gallery, COVID-19 vaccinations are required for those who are eligible, and mask-wearing is required for all. Guests will be required to sign in, and groups of five or more people can call 212-360-8114 or email artandantiquities@parks.nyc.gov to pre-register.

The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks, and park history. It is located on the third floor of Parks’ headquarters in Central Park on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and admission is free. For more information on the Arsenal Gallery, please visit nyc.gov/parks.

The NYC Parks Ebony Society was founded in 1985 with the purpose of unifying NYC Parks’ African American community, increasing African American visibility, and recognizing those who make outstanding contributions not only to NYC Parks, but also their communities. Soon thereafter, the Ebony Society was chartered as a non-profit. The Society derives its name from the Ebony tree, indigenous to Africa and known for its strength. Since 1985, it has become an integral part of the NYC Parks community and has helped organize the annual exhibition honoring Black History Month in the Arsenal Gallery since 1991.