Art Exhibit Inspired By MLK, Jr. Opens At NJ State Museum

By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern

New Jersey State Museum. Photo credit:

SOUTH JERSEY – The New Jersey State Museum has announced it will display four prints of artwork by artist Ben Shahn, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his Letter from Birmingham Jail. The ‘mini exhibition’ will be open to the public from April 1 through June 4, 2023. 

Serving as a ‘center for the exploration of science, history, and the arts,’ the New Jersey State Museum aims to ‘preserve and share stories that inspire curiosity and creativity for the enrichment of the community.’ 

Shahn’s artistic work of Dr. King adds significant value to the state museum’s goal. Shahn was recognized by Time magazine for his portrait of the Civil Rights leader two years after Dr. King published the Letter from Birmingham Jail. He had always admired and supported the work of Dr. King, and went on to build and create art that primarily focused on social and political justice from the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement. 

On April 16, 1963, Dr. King participated in a nonviolent demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama, and for that, he was imprisoned. While in prison, he wrote a letter in response to eight white religious leaders who resided in the South about their public statement of concern over Dr. King’s message and methods for public demonstration. 

In his letter, Dr. King acknowledged each claim put forward by these men and expressed the great value of nonviolent demonstrations and campaigns against racial injustice. Dr. King’s message pushed forth his belief that in order to have necessary social change, one must recognize that justice will not come with devotion to order. Rather, he argued, each person must be responsible for acting according to their morals and conscience. 

To view the work of the talented Shahn and learn more about the life and impact of Dr. King, visit the New Jersey State Museum, which is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. General admission into the museum is free. 

The museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, New Jersey, will have free general admission.

To learn more about the New Jersey State Museum, visit

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