About the Project

re:mancipation is a multifaceted, multiyear project that incorporates traditional art historical methods and introduces new technologies to research and interpretation. Our goal is to recontextualize and reinterpret Thomas Ball’s Emancipation Group to engage with the history of racism in American culture, collecting practices of museums, and public monuments.

The half-life-size marble sculpture depicts Abraham Lincoln standing over a kneeling, newly “emancipated” person and had been on view in the museum since 1976 without contextualization or opportunity for visitors to respond. We knew that the problematic subject matter of the work had to be addressed, but as a teaching institution we struggled with how to approach the project as an opportunity for both learning and dialogue within the confines of traditional approaches to exhibition and interpretation.


The group of three collaborators has now grown dramatically and includes artists and partners from music, dance, theater, curriculum development, film, engineering, textiles, and spoken word, to name only a few. 
Perspectives From The People

What began as a seemingly insurmountable task to grapple with a challenging object in our collection has developed into an initiative with wider reach and deeper impact than we imagined. This exhibition is one component of the larger project and is designed to bring forward work done to date, highlight artistic engagement and response, and inspire conversation and introspection. Join us at the Chazen from February – June 2023 to experience the re:mancipation exhibition in person.  In the meantime, visit the exhibition through this immersive interactive virtual tour.