Our Story

Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Developed by Broadway Housing Communities (BHC), the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling (SHCMAS) is the cultural heart of the Sugar Hill Project.

Led by founder and executive director Ellen Baxter for over 30 years, BHC has pioneered high-impact solutions to the challenges of deep generational poverty and homelessness in the underserved communities of Upper Manhattan with an innovative model leveraging the synergies of housing, education and the arts to creating lasting change for underserved children, families and communities.

Together with a devoted group of community members and advisers led by Steve Seidel, Director of Harvard University's Arts in Education Program, BHC conceived of Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling not only as a stimulating space for neighborhood families to gather and share in cultural programs, but as a setting to actively address the educational needs of the community's youngest children, many from families challenged by poverty, little formal education, and a lack of proficiency in the English language.

Recognizing that young children are natural artists, and embracing their love of stories, the Museum planning team envisioned a place that tapped into children's intrepid curiosity and wide-ranging imaginations; where they would not only see art and talk about art, but share their own stories and make art from them. And acknowledging current research on the impact of early childhood education in the arts, 3 to 8 year olds were identified as Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling's primary audience—the age cohort identified as most open to learning through the arts. Through transformational experiences in art and storytelling, Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling would foster the creative intelligence and cognitive skills that prepare children for social and academic success; positively impacting the outlook for their future, and the future of their community.

The Sugar Hill Project marks the geographic center of the legendary Sugar Hill historic district, home to the Harlem Renaissance. Celebrating the important history of this landmark neighborhood and signaling BHC's commitment to the community, internationally acclaimed architect David Adjaye was selected to design Sugar Hill as a beacon of opportunity. David's architectural practice—grounded in the philosophy that social purpose and design are intertwined and mutually reinforcing—was a great fit for the vision for the Museum as a vibrant arts space that reverberates with the social and cultural milieu in which it is located.

A place that celebrates learning, creativity and culture, the story of Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling is now part of the Sugar Hill neighborhood's too.

Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Photo by Michael Palma Mir

The Sugar Hill Project

The Sugar Hill Project, Broadway Housing Community's most recent initiative, leverages the success of its integrated model which pairs permanent housing with early education and educational advocacy, and access to the arts. The 191,000 square-feet mixed-use building designed by internationally acclaimed architect David Adjaye is prominently located in Upper Manhattan’s Sugar Hill historic district on 155th Street, the crossroads of the traditionally African American neighborhood of Harlem and the immigrant, largely Latino communities of Washington Heights.

Recognized as a leading architect of his generation, Adjaye's influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. He founded Adjaye Associates in 2000 and has since been awarded prestigious commissions such as the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo and the Whitechapel Idea Store in London.

In addition to the Sugar Hill Project, Adjaye's work in the United States includes the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, two public libraries in Washington DC, and the redesigned Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art at Harvard’s Hutchins Center. Adjaye Associates’ were also selected to lead the design of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Our Mission

The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling provides our culturally rich neighborhood with a space where children and their families grow and learn about Sugar Hill, and about the world at large, through intergenerational dialogue with artists, art and storytelling.

Designed to nurture the curiosity and creative spirit of three- to eight-year-old children, Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling provides opportunities to grow as both author and audience, as children engage with the work of accomplished artists and storytellers, and create and share their own. 

Photo by Wade Zimmerman

Photo by Wade Zimmerman

As its cultural capstone, The Sugar Hill Museum of Art & Storytelling is located on the first and lower floor.