Reading Public Museum opens Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement

To mark the 60th anniversary of the passing of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Reading Public Museum is hosting Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement in its Works on Paper Gallery on the Ground Floor.

This engaging and poignant exhibition comprises over 50 black and white photographs by photographer Danny Lyon, taken during his time as staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1962 to 1964. The exhibit will be on view at RPM through Sunday, May 12, 2024, and is organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions.

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A giant of post-War documentary photography and film, Brooklyn, NY native Danny Lyon (b. 1942) helped to define a mode of photojournalism in which the picture-maker is deeply and personally embedded in his subject matter. Lyon’s photographs are considered to be some of the most significant images of the era.

A self-taught photographer and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Lyon began his photographic career in the early 1960s as the first staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a national group of college students who joined together after their first sit-in at a North Carolina lunch counter. From 1963 to 1964, Lyon traveled the South and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States documenting the Civil Rights Movement. The photographs were published in The Movement, a documentary book about the Southern Civil Rights Movement, and later in Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, Lyon’s own memoir of his years working for the SNCC.

Stacey Taylor, President of the Reading Branch NAACP, stated “I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibit, the captured complexities of life for African Americans. I’m excited our community is being given this opportunity to see the exhibit up close and personal. Kudos RPM for being unapologetic in wanting to share the truth about America’s history.”

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The Reading Public Museum will present several programs to enhance this exhibit. On February 27th at 6pm, the Reading Branch NAACP Historian Wynton Butler will present a special lecture called 1960’s Reading: The Great Migration & Civil Rights at the Reading Public Museum. This event is free but requires a reservation, and light refreshments will be available. Please email to RSVP.

On March 22nd at 1pm, The Museum will host a special documentary screening of American Experience: Freedom Riders in the Neag Planetarium. This inspirational documentary is based partly on Raymond Arsenault’s acclaimed book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice and is the first feature-length film about this courageous band of civil rights activists.

The Reading Public Museum is located at 500 Museum Road, Reading, PA. Admission per day is: $10 adults (18-64), $6 children/seniors/college students (w/ID), and free to Members and children three years old and under. The Museum is open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reading School District students are granted free Museum and Planetarium access and may be accompanied by two adults at no cost. Students must show a District ID card, and the adults who accompany them must show proof they reside in zip codes within the District.

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