Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Co-Hosts Seventh-Annual Juneteenth Event with The Urban Labs

Free Evening Features Performances and Demonstrations by Local Artists, Panel Discussion on 
Black Histories, and Sunset Cinema Screening with Roxbury International Film Festival

BOSTON (June 11, 2019)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is partnering with the social impact agency The Urban Labs to present its seventh-annual celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally recognized commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. The free event takes place at the MFA on June 19, 2019 from 5 to 10 pm. Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865, when news that the Civil War had ended reached Galveston, Texas—nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The Museum has hosted a Juneteenth event since 2013, collaborating with Malia Lazu, currently the strategic director of The Urban Labs, since the inaugural year. Kicking off in conjunction with Juneteenth is the MFA’s third-annual Sunset Cinema series, featuring an outdoor screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse co-presented with the Roxbury International Film Festival. Now in its 21st year, the festival is dedicated to celebrating people of color around the world.

The programming lineup for Juneteenth was co-created with community partners and local artists and performers. Throughout the evening, visitors are invited to join a City Talks discussion tackling how cultural institutions should acknowledge Black histories; drop in on tours highlighting art by artists of color; participate in a group dance lesson led by TRILLFIT® head instructor Melisa Valdez; and enjoy performances by Abilities Dance, Boston Latin School Step Squad, Boston Lyric Opera and Castle of Our Skins.

“Juneteenth at the MFA has become a wonderful tradition for Boston,” said Lazu. “We are thrilled to see thousands of people come through the Museum to celebrate the contributions of the Black community to the arts in Boston.”

For the second year in a row, the MFA’s Sunset Cinema screening during Juneteenth will launch the Roxbury International Film Festival. Since 1999, the festival has showcased and honored works of both emerging and established filmmakers of color, growing to become the largest festival in New England dedicated to this genre. The MFA has served as a venue for the festival for the past 20 years. This year’s screenings (June 20–29) feature a variety of narrative, short, documentary and student films, including Jennifer Sharp’s surreal and cerebral Una Great Movie and Don’t Be Nice, Max Powers’ rousing documentary about a team of young New York City slam poets competing in a national championship.

“This year’s festival opens with two powerful films and continues for nine days in four different locations. It is always exciting each year to present a new line of work that reflects a diversity and breadth of experiences that are inspiring, entertaining and truly reflective of a wider experience of people of color around the world. It is what inspires us to do this work year after year,” said Lisa Simmons, director of the Roxbury International Film Festival.

Juneteenth is part of a series of annual community celebrations that take place at the MFA throughout the year, which also include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lunar New Year, Nowruz, Memorial Day, Highland Street Foundation Free Fun Friday, ASL Night, Fall Open House, Diwali and Hanukkah. In 2019, the Museum will introduce Latinx Heritage Night (September 18) and dedicate the Fall Open House (October 14) to Indigenous Peoples’ Day going forward. All of these events are co-created with valued community partners, artists and performers, highlighting external perspectives and local expertise.

Schedule of Juneteenth Events

Free admission to the Museum begins at 4 pm


Shapiro Family Courtyard
6:30 pm | Spirituals led by Valerie Stephens
6:35 pm | Welcome remarks from Matthew Teitelbaum, Malia Lazu and Lisa Simmons
6:40 pm | Commemorative Juneteenth remarks by Robert Lewis Jr.
6:50 pm | Performance by Abilities Dance, a local dance company that promotes dance for individuals with and without disabilities

The City Talks: Sharing Black Histories

7–8 pm, Remis Auditorium

Panel discussion tackling how cultural institutions should acknowledge Black histories, moderated by Dr. Nikki A. Greene, assistant professor of art at Wellesley College, and featuring Des Polk, founder of Radical Black Girl; Jason Talbot, co-founder of Artists for Humanity; and Makeeba McCreary, the MFA’s Patti and Jonathan Kraft Chief of Learning and Community Engagement

Spotlight Talks

5, 5:30 and 6 pm, Gallery 171

Ten-minute discussions in the African galleries with Kathryn Gunsch, Teel Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Pop-up Tours: Artists of the African Diaspora

5:30–9 pm, Levels 2 and 3, Art of the Americas Wing

Ongoing tours highlighting art by artists of color whose work is on view in the Museum

Drawing in the Galleries

6–9 pm, Gallery 207

Drop-in sketching from a live model, with the opportunity to learn drawing tips and techniques from an MFA instructor

Crossing the Line to Freedom

6–6:15, 7–7:15 and 7:45–8 pm, Gallery 168

Performances by Castle of Our Skins and Boston Lyric Opera, featuring art songs, opera arias, spirituals and poetry and highlighting the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Paul Robeson, Roland Hayes and Marian Anderson

Dance Lesson with Melissa Valdez

7 and 8:30 pm (with ASL interpretation), Calderwood Courtyard

A group dance lesson featuring steps of the African diaspora, led by Melisa Valdez, professional dancer, dance coach and head instructor at TRILLFIT®, a boutique fitness studio located in Mission Hill

Boston Latin School Step Squad

7:45 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

Visitors can enjoy the precision, style and rhythm of the BLS Step Squad

Abilities Dance

8–8:15 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

Performances of new work by Scynthia Charles and Ellice Patterson of Abilities Dance, featuring original jazz and gospel-inspired music by Andrew Choe

Sunset Cinema: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

7–8:30 pm (art making with Chanel Thervil and lawn games), 8:30–10:30 pm (film screening, with open captions)

Screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018, directed by Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman) on the Huntington Avenue Lawn, presented in partnership with the Roxbury International Film Festival and Comics in Color

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia; Art of Africa and Oceania; Art of Ancient Greece and Rome; Art of Ancient Egypt, Nubia and the Near East; Prints and Drawings; Photography; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–5 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–10 pm. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25), while five Open Houses offer the opportunity to visit the Museum for free. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For more information, call 617.267.9300, visit or follow the MFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Sarah Drumm