About The The Harmon Foundation

William E. Harmon,  a white real estate broker, established the Harmon Foundation in New York City in 1922. The foundation recognized and encouraged African American achievement in several areas including fine art, literature, education and music. It is most famous as the first major institution involved in the promotion and preservation of African American art.

The foundation encouraged African American artists to develop work representative of their culture. The foundation used art in an effort to break down racial prejudice.

The Harmon exhibitions were the largest and most publicized showings of African American art. They accepted all kinds of art work from traditional to experimental. Another benefit derived from the exhibitions was making African American/Black artists aware of each other. Over 400 African American artists were in contact with the foundation by 1935.

Competitions sponsored by the foundation provided cash awards and stipends to young African American artists. These awards and stipends enabled young artists to study at art schools and colleges.

About The The Harmon Foundation

The Harmon Foundation art exhibitions traveled to over twenty-five states and were viewed by nearly one-half million people. The Harmon Foundation dissolved in the 1960s. It donated its works to several museums including the Smithsonian.