HARLEM — The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute opened its doors Thursday after a two year, multimillion-dollar renovation at its landmark East Harlem firehouse home.
The 40-year-old arts and social justice organization will use the four-story red-brick building at 120 E. 125th St. to host events and showcase the legacy of African cultures.
El Barrio, a neighborhood that is still largely black and Hispanic with a vibrant history, is the perfect home for the cultural center given its mission to tell the story of Afro-Caribbean cultures, the founder said.
“The site of the firehouse, in the heart of East Harlem, is iconic for what we stand for — the cross-section of African diaspora cultures meeting at the nexus of East, Central and West Harlem,” said Marta Moreno Vega, who founded the organization in 1976.
“We are a place where the African Diaspora is invited to come together to create and document our achievements to forge the next generation of leaders in our community — no matter how drastically the neighborhood or the city changes.”
The firehouse underwent a $9.3 million renovation beginning in 2014. The building will host exhibitions, workshops and performances and offer rental spaces for community use.
The organization will also kick-off its opening with year-long programming and a block party and exhibitions, including one that chronicles Harlem from the 1970s to the present, among other activities.