ÖMSUBM: a museum for Black culture and popular music in the German-speaking world

Austrian Museum for Black Entertainment and Black MusicAs a new branch of the Belvedere, and in cooperation with Wiener Festwochen, the Austrian Museum for Black Entertainment and Black Music chronicles the lives of Black artists and entertainers who rose to prominence in what has been a predominantly white German-language entertainment industry. The ÖMSUBM documents the circumstances under which the careers of Olive Moorefield, Arabella Kiesbauer, the Round Girls, Mola Adebisi, Jessye Norman, Billy Mo, and Roberto Blanco, among others, have advanced between the 1940s and the early noughties when scheduled television was declining and YouTube was evolving.

An international management team led by Dalia Ahmed, Joana Tischkau, Anta Helena Recke, Elisabeth Hampe, and Frieder Blume is supporting the ÖMSUBM at the Belvedere. These curators, who established the German Museum for Black Entertainment and Black Music in 2020, will stage the exhibition pavilion of the former Belvedere 21 for its opening to the public on May 15. The grand opening, with free admission, will take place on May 14 at 6 pm.

Stella Rollig, the general director of the Belvedere, says: The creation of a museum that celebrates Black entertainment and music has been long overdue in this country. Entrusting the Belvedere 21 site to the ÖMSUBM will give the museum a new mandate, one that will rewrite the history of Austrian popular culture.

Christophe Slagmuylder, the artistic director of the Wiener Festwochen, explains: The ÖMSUBM will fill in the gaps, reexamine history and correct some of its dominant narratives. The Wiener Festwochen and the ÖMSUBM share the desire to shape reality through art. I am looking forward to our productive and encouraging collaboration.

According to the ÖMSUBM management team: The ÖMSUBM focuses on the staging strategies of Black artists, the mechanisms of reception by a predominantly white audience, and the empowering strategies of subversion. Under what conditions did Black artists flourish in Austria? What relevance do their life stories have in today’s world?

Exhibiting the Collection
The ÖMSUBM maintains a comprehensive and ever-expanding multimedia collection that includes records, magazines, autographs, and memorabilia, which will be displayed in a setting conducive to experiencing and discussing Black art and history. Open source and adaptability are key design principles for the collection. Donations, loans, and purchases from private individuals constitute the core of the archive, which, coupled with its curatorial mandate, establishes a new field of Austrian and German historiography and museum design.