Saturday, July 5, 2014

#161: Katherine Dunham Museum

I stopped by here on the Fourth of July, as I was headed to Fair St. Louis. Regretfully I didn't go in (hey, it was closed that day!). However, I do hope to make it back sometime soon. The place is not hard to find if you get off the Memorial Ave. exit off of I-55/70 as there are signs that point how to get here.

In college (at SIUE), I was a History minor. I took a couple black history in America courses, and in one of them we talked a lot about Katherine Dunham. Dunham, by the way, is the namesake of SIUE's Dunham Hall, which hosts the music, theatre and communications departments. In my opinion, history hasn't been that kind as she has gone underlooked. Dunham should be known for the way she revolutionized the dance culture, and how she went out of her way and opened doors for several people. Ever heard of Eartha Kitt and Alvin Ailey? Without Dunham, they probably would not have gained notice in the entertainment world.

For the record, Dunham was not really from East St. Louis, or from the St. Louis area. In fact, she didn't come here until her 50s! She was originally from the Chicago area, but she did move around. She did open up the Katherine Dunham School of Dance in New York City and operated it for several years. While in East St. Louis, she collaborated with people from numerous professions to create a liberal arts program at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (or SIUE).

What? There's bars on the door?

An episode of KETC Channel 9's 'Living St. Louis' devoted to Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham Wikipedia link
Official website

1005 Pennsylvania Ave., EAST ST. LOUIS, IL, 62201
Cake artist: Dail Chambers

UPDATE (8/24/2016): The cake is still there.

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