Directions, Hours & Search
208 W 13 St
New York, NY 10011

Building Hours

8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Collection #170

Beau McCall Papers

Size:5 in.
Portrait of Beau McCall wearing sunglasses with button headdress


Given by Beau McCall in 2021.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of two signed copies of the artist book Rewind: Memories On Repeat, commissioned and published by SHINE Portrait Studio at Express Newark, Rutgers University-Newark. The book honors the legacy of ten of McCall’s deceased friends through collages composed of archival photos and images from his button artwork. 

Also included are the original collages made for the book. The collages are made from color photocopied images and photos from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, from Philadelphia to New York, during the LGBTQ+ rights movement, the height of disco music and the early AIDS crisis. There is also one example of a wearable art line that McCall created called Triple T-shirts: three T-shirts combined into one flowing garment that can be worn in six different ways, from poncho to hoodie to shawl and beyond. 

Also included are a set of emails and a video between Beau and guest editor Souleo about the making of Rewind. A cassette demo tape titled “Strand Beauties” (1985) has not yet been transferred for access.

History or Bio

Beau McCall is an acclaimed visual artist. Drawing inspiration from the vast button collection of his mother and family, McCall creates wearable and visual art by applying clothing buttons onto mostly upcycled fabrics, materials, and objects.

He began his professional career in Harlem in the 1980s after arriving from his native Philadelphia with nothing more than two hundred dollars, a duffel bag and a few buttons in his pocket from home. Circa 1988 he made his critically acclaimed wearable art debut at The Harlem Institute of Fashion (HIF) show for Harlem Week. He’s been proclaimed by American Craft magazine, “The Button Man.” His visual and wearable art has been included in exhibitions at The Museum at FIT, Nordstrom, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Langston Hughes House, and Rush Arts Gallery. 

McCall was an established force within HIF’s Black Fashion Museum collective presenting at their shows consecutively through 1994, as well as being featured in their museum exhibitions and prestigious events. McCall’s work has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, on George C. Wolfe’s “The Colored Museum” (1991), and in the award-winning film “Quartier Mozart” (1992).

McCall’s work is held in the permanent collection of public institutions and by private individuals including the Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum at FIT, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Amistad Research Center (New Orleans), The Museum of Modern Art Library, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (New York), Stonewall National Museum & Archives (Fort Lauderdale), and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Library, Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Residence, Debbie Harry AKA Blondie, Jeffrey Gibson, and Cristina Grajales. McCall has also been commissioned by the Museum of Arts and Design, Columbia University, and the Schomburg Center. And his wearable art can be found in gift shops such as the Newark Museum of Art. 

McCall has been featured in the NY Times, Associated Press, NPR, L.A. Times, and more. In addition, he has served as a teaching artist at the Newark Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Harlem Arts Alliance. 

–Adapted from

Folder List

Box 1

  1. Twenty-nine original photo collages created for the artist book Rewind: Memories on Repeat.

Unfoldered Items

Rewind: Memories on Repeat (artist book, two copies)

Triple T-shirt

Cassette tape titled “Strand Beauties,” June 31, 1985

Emails from 2019-2021 documenting the book’s development 

Video about the book with Beau remembering his friends (runtime: 54:16:00)

Note: reach out to for access