Museum of Modern Art honors Frederick Douglass with immersive exhibit

Joelle Garguilo Image
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Museum of Modern Art honors Frederick Douglass with immersive exhibit
Joelle Garguilo details the new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that honors civil rights leader Frederick Douglass.

MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- In celebration of Juneteenth, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) is honoring civil rights leader, Frederick Douglass, with a stunning, immersive exhibit.

The exhibit is called "Lessons of the Hour," from artist Isaac Julien.

It's a video installation based on Douglass's life and activism, a story of struggle, resilience and the unyielding pursuit of justice.

Eyewitness News entertainment reporter Joelle Garguilo stopped at the MoMa for a preview, and spoke to Julien.

Julien: "Frederick Douglass was such a magnificent, and courageous, and majestic individual. I felt like I needed to do justice to him."

Across 10 screens, images and videos paint a vivid picture of Douglass as an abolitionist, orator, philosopher and a champion of civil rights.

Julien: "I like the idea of editing narrative through the different screens, and it becomes a kind of choreography, like a kind of dance of images."

Garguilo: "What were the speeches that needed to be in this?"

Julien: "Three speeches: 'What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,' 'Lessons of the Hour,' which is a speech that he made before he died, and then there's this lecture on pictures is really about the role of photography, because he's a philosopher of photography."

Douglass' words find new life - speaking to the present in this immersive experience.

Smooth is a curator at the MoMa, who says that having Julien's 'Lessons of the Hour' at the museum during Juneteenth is an incredible opportunity for their audience to learn from history.

Garguilo: "You think about just the title of this 'Lessons of the Hour,' which of course was a speech of Frederick Douglass. But what lessons will we learn when we come and we immerse ourselves in this world that you've created?"

Julien: "Well, Frederick Douglass, who was born enslaved to later became a philosopher, orator and statesman. I think people will love that the author Frederick Douglass, was a kind of art collector. He was also somewhat of a philosopher around photography. So, I think people will find that the Frederick Douglass is really quite an amazing figure."

Douglass is a pivotal figure whose legacy continues to educate and inspire.

'Lessons of the Hour' will run through September 28 at the MoMa.

For the first time, historical objects directly related to 'Lessons of the Hour' are on view alongside the work, portraits of Douglass, pamphlets of his speeches and first editions of his memoirs.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.