March 20, 2024

Photojournalist Agins Makes Museum Debut at Zimmerli

VISUAL STORYTELLER: James Baldwin introduces his new book, “Evidence of Things Not Seen,” at the home of Lerone Bennett in Chicago 1983. “Michelle V. Agins: Storyteller” is on view through December 8 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers – New Brunswick. (Photo by Michelle V. Agins)

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Michelle V. Agins, whose images tell stories about life in America, was the second Black woman ever hired as a staff photographer at the New York Times. She built her career at a time when photo editors gave very few assignments to women — much less to women of color.

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers — New Brunswick now presents “Michelle V. Agins: Storyteller.” On view through December 8, the exhibit features 66 photographs taken during her 35 years at the Times. Her groundbreaking assignments offer important documentation of race relations, celebrity culture, sports, spirituality, and economic disparity in America. Agins visits the museum for an artist talk and reception on April 21. Visit for details.

“Agins’ practice is as a visual storyteller, with a powerful humanizing vision,” said Maura Reilly, the Zimmerli’s director, who organized the exhibition with New York Times picture editor Maura Foley, who has worked with Agins for decades. “With a keen eye toward narrative and aesthetic detail, Agins’ images, like those of Richard Avedon and Gordon Parks, bridge the gap between photojournalism and fine art photography. The exhibition itself aligns with one of the museum’s many missions, which is to present work by underrepresented artists, and to offer them a platform to share their talents with our diverse audiences.”

“Storyteller” spans the vast array of news moments that Agins has covered for the New York Times. It features her early pictures of the protests surrounding the murder of Black teenager Yusef Hawkins in 1989 and the 1992 Democratic National Convention. More recent images spotlight the Kamala Harris campaign and portraits of artist and activist Stormé DeLarverie, a Stonewall uprising survivor. Agins has captured other iconic figures, such as James Baldwin, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Serena Williams, Anthony Mason, and Anita Hill, among many others.

The exhibition also includes some of Agins’ photographs of New Yorkers who have been aided by the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund (now called the Communities Fund), as well as her 1994 series “Another America: Life on 129th Street,” which studies the effects of gun violence on a Harlem neighborhood. For more information about the artist, visit

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers is located at 71 Hamilton Street (at George Street) on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Admission is free. For more information, visit