Setting free the slaves of Texas – a celebration and history of Juneteenth.

And Still We Rise… Galveston’s Juneteenth story is a museum exhibition located in the 1859 Ashton Villa, one of the historic properties preserved by the Galveston Historical Foundation. The exhibition design establishes Galveston as the origin of Juneteenth and the keeper of the historical memories associated with it. It also examines the long and winding path that Black Americans still travel in pursuit of “absolute equality”.

The Galveston Historical Foundation is a non-profit organisation, custodian and champion of history on the Texas island. Among its many missions including community redevelopment and guardianship of historic properties — is historic preservation. GHF’s vision for history is forward-thinking, embracing modern technology to intersect and enhance historical architecture and the natural environment of the island. History is engaging, immersive and personal on Galveston Island.

To help share stories and confront the consequences of Juneteenth, Gibson International, led by GHF’s African American Heritage Committee, worked closely with the museums’ team to curate, design and produce much of the interactive design, video content and graphic banners.

Our role

  • Museum consultants
  • Stakeholder and cultural engagement
  • Experience design
  • Content producers
  • Interpretive design
  • Fabrication and installation
  • Ongoing support and maintenance

On the 19th of June 1865, federal soldiers arrived in Galveston in the wake of their Civil War victory. On that day, a now famous Military Order was issued announcing that “all slaves are free” in “absolute equality” with their former owners. The day has been remembered as Juneteenth and celebrated through history and throughout the country. In 2021, President Biden made it a federal holiday.

Juneteenth yesterday and today

The museum exhibition conveys content through a dual lens – rigorous research and documentation of original historical records on the one hand, and the lived reality through the eyes and lives of Black Americans in Galveston today.

To understand the significance of Juneteenth, visitors need to understand how slavery was embedded in the social, economic and political fabric of Texas. Visitors explore this through large portrait mounted timeline screens, charting the rise of Texas slavery, particularly in the 19th Century.

That socio-political context is personalised with extracts from both scholarly opinion pieces and, most importantly, with extracts from wide ranging interviews we conducted with representatives of the local Black American community.

Ultimately, the exhibition is about tracing the journey from “humanity’s horrific treatment of humanity” as one interview subject described it, along the long path to the promised “absolute equality”, a promise which our interview subjects are adamant has today still not yet been delivered.

The final station of the exhibition captures this in a specially commissioned artistic animation.

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