Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Smithsonian should keep Bill Cosby's art collection on display

By Ernest O. Disney-Britton
"The Thankful Poor" (1894) by Henry Ossawa Tanner
The art collection of Camille and William Cosby Jr. explores many aspects of the African American  experience, including spirituality in the 1894 masterwork “The Thankful Poor” by Henry Ossawa Tanner and in the 1943 painting “Boy and the Candle” by South African artist Gerard Sekoto. As friends and organizations run from everything related to Bill Cosby, only the Smithsonian is standing up for artistic and religious freedom. Bill Cosby was clearly wrong, but that should not prevent access to the African and African American artists in his collection. The Smithsonian says it has no plans to take down the Cosby exhibit, and the Smithsonian is right.

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art: "Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue" (Ends January 24, 2016); 950 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C.; (202) 633-4600; africa.si.edu