Amistad: Retold at the New Haven Museum

09may5:30 pm7:30 pmAmistad: Retold at the New Haven Museum5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Amistad Retold at the New Haven Museum postcard

Event Details

The reconceived exhibition “Amistad: Retold” takes a new angle on the familiar story of the Amistad, centering the people who led the revolt and their collective actions to determine their own lives. It also foregrounds New Haven as the site of their incarceration and organizing by Black and white abolitionists. The exhibition opens at the New Haven Museum (NHM) on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. and will begin with remarks by project advisors who collaborated with NHM on the reinterpretation of the gallery. A reception follows at 6:15 p.m., courtesy of Jack’s Steakhouse.

The 1839 Amistad Revolt was led by 53 West African captives who were being trafficked from Havana’s slave markets on the schooner La Amistad after being kidnapped from their homelands, despite European treaties prohibiting the Atlantic Slave Trade. The Museum notes the diversity of the Amistad captives—their multiethnic, multilingual, and economic backgrounds, with trades that ranged from rice farmer to blacksmith, in addition to weavers, hunters, and merchants.

Incarcerated for nearly 19 months in New Haven, the Amistad captives worked closely with anti-slavery activists who formed the Amistad Committee and connected with networks of engaged citizens to organize and fundraise for their legal defense. Artists, particularly those based in New Haven, gave representation to the movement by creating engravings and paintings that enabled the public to envision the circumstances of the captives and recognize their individuality and resolve in protecting their freedom. A number of those significant works made their way to the New Haven Museum collection.

Visitors will be immediately surprised by the new visual experience of the gallery – its vibrant colors, transformation of the space, as well as a new acquisition – the color serigraph of artist Jacob Lawrence’s “Revolt on the Amistad,” created in 1989 to commemorate the Amistad Revolt sesquicentennial. A cover image from a Golden Legacy comic book offers a 1970s pop-culture adaptation of NHM’s iconic Sengbe Pieh portrait, which was painted in 1840 by Nathaniel Jocelyn at the time of the trials. The painting has returned to view after two years, following its inclusion in “Afro-Atlantic Histories,” a major traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

In response to questions and comments from students and teachers during workshops, the new exhibition includes a large-scale map that charts the voyages of the Amistad rebels. The map provides context about the continual resistance to the slave trade in West Africa and across the Atlantic, as well as the changing Trans-Atlantic politics in the years preceding the Amistad Revolt in 1839. Visitors will also appreciate a time-lapse map created by that visualizes the expansion of the slave trade despite its illegality in the mid-19th century. Significantly, the exhibition highlights the crucial leadership of Black abolitionists, incorporating excerpts from Black-owned and abolitionist newspapers.



(Thursday) 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm


New Haven Museum

114 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT USA