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Elizabeth Freeman Day

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The MassArt Art Museum and The Trustees Celebrate “Elizabeth Freeman Day” with Virtual Programming

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 — In celebration of Elizabeth Freeman Day, the MassArt Art Museum (MAAM) and The Trustees are partnering to present virtual programming about
Freeman, an enslaved woman whose court battle for her freedom in 1781 helped make slavery illegal in Massachusetts. On August 21, 1781 Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman’s unprecedented case was presented in court and her freedom was granted the following day. The organizations invite audiences of all ages to celebrate this courageous woman’s life through a variety of virtual programming that includes artmaking, conversations, story time, and a tour.

For its opening year, MAAM invited renowned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos to Boston to create a site-specific work for her first solo exhibition in the United States. Her new monumental installation, entitled Valkyrie Mumbet, pays tribute to Freeman’s life and honors her importance in Massachusetts history and the foundational part she played in abolishing slavery. 

The Museum commemorates Elizabeth Freeman Day in partnership with The Trustees, which protects and cares for the Colonel John Ashley House in Sheffield, MA and is one of the organizations which preserves the historic legacy of Elizabeth Freeman and her story of freedom and justice. This year, due to COVID-19, The Trustees is offering a newly created virtual tour of the Ashley House with a focus on Freeman’s story and a look at what happened after she received her freedom and began the process which led to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts becoming a free state. Curator Mark Wilson also shares details of Elizabeth Freeman’s life as a freed woman.

MassArt Art Museum Activities:

  • Story Time Join MAAM Curator of Education Mesma Belsaré for a reading of Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle.
  • Make with MAAM Looking to Learn Educator Julia Einstein teaches us how to paint a miniature portrait to honor someone who has impacted your life.
  • MAAM Conversations Tammy Denease – performing artist, storyteller, actor, and playwright – and Curatorial Fellow Michaela Blanc examine the life and legacy of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman.

The Trustees of Reservations Activities

  • Virtual tour of the Colonel John Ashley House in Sheffield, MA where Freeman lived as an enslaved person when she sued for her freedom. Also, learn more about her life after she gained her freedom and ultimately built a life as a valued and respected member of the Stockbridge community.
  • African American Heritage Trail tracks the path of important milestones in Freeman’s life.


About the MassArt Art Museum

The MassArt Art Museum (MAAM) is Boston’s newest free contemporary art museum. After extensive renovations, MAAM opened in February 2020 in the space formerly known as the Bakalar & Paine Galleries at the heart of MassArt’s campus on the Avenue of the Arts. MAAM is a kunsthalle, or non-collecting museum, showing temporary exhibitions that feature the work of artists at all stages of their careers to bring fresh and varied perspectives to Boston. As MassArt’s teaching museum, MAAM is a resource for MassArt students and faculty, educating students about contemporary art, partnering with faculty to support the curriculum, and preparing students for careers in the museum field. As an extension of the College’s public mission, the Museum is also a vital resource to the community, offering a pathway to education in the arts and free, unique educational programming to Boston-area public schools and community groups. Follow MAAM at @maamboston on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. To learn more visit

About The Trustees

Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 125 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit, supported by members, friends and donors and our 120 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually.

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