‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’ Exhibit Puts Apollo Theater in Spotlight

BY Monique Hayes  August 27, 2010 at 7:50 PM EST

Built in 1914 and originally named Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theatre, Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater first catered to whites only. However, ownership changed hands in 1934 and a new era in black entertainment and American pop culture was launched.

An installation chronicling the history of the landmark theater is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” takes visitors on a ride into the theater’s rich history with rarely displayed artifacts from Sammy Davis, Jr., Celia Cruz and Michael Jackson, who won Amateur Night in 1967 as a member of the Jackson 5.

The exhibit leaves Washington at the end of August. However, you can catch it at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History beginning Oct. 1 and at the Museum of the City of New York starting in January.

Recently, Hari Sreenivasan toured the exhibit: