Treasures from August Wilson’s Life Celebrate Black History Month in Pittsburgh

“Highlights from the August Wilson Archive,” a showcase of documents, memorabilia and photos documenting the playwright’s life, will be on display in the lobby of the City-County Building throughout February.
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The University of Pittsburgh acquired a trove of documents, memorabilia and photos from  August Wilson’s storied life three years ago and now, in celebration of Black History Month, select artifacts are on display at the City-County Building through February. 

The City of Pittsburgh Office of Special Events, in partnership with Pitt’s Hillman Library, has the collection entitled “Highlights from the August Wilson Archive” on display in the building’s lobby, Downtown. Pitt bought the entire archive from the late playwright’s widow, Constanza Romero, in 2020 and opened it up to the public in January 2023 for archival research. 

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Wilson, who died in 2005 at age 60, is revered for his 10-play century cycle, each exploring a different decade of the 20th century, with all but one set in Pittsburgh. Mayor Ed Gainey praised the late playwright for “shap[ing] the way the world has learned about Black life in Pittsburgh” in a press release announcing the showcase.

“This exhibit will help us celebrate his life and legacy as we share how his plays helped create a deeper understanding of what it meant to be Black in Pittsburgh,” he said.

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Eliza Gonzalez, the curator of the display and a senior at Pittsburgh Allderice High School, pulled artifacts from Pitt’s archive to showcase. The exhibit also features digital displays rotating between interviews with individuals who knew Wilson and highlights of certain items.

This display is accompanied by an online exhibit available from Feb. 1-28, featuring a series of interviews with individuals who knew Wilson and more items from his life. 

The kick-off reception for the exhibit will be held on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. Refreshments and entertainment will be offered alongside remarks by Gainey, Gonzalez, Kornelia Tancheva, the director of the university library system; Diael Thomas, the outreach and engagement curator of the August Wilson collection; and friends of Wilson’s.

Categories: The 412