LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

Smithsonian To Post Sign At Exhibition Featuring Bill Cosby-Owned Art

Quilts from the Bill and Camille Cosby collection hang at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., in this Nov. 6, 2014, photo.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington will post a sign Wednesday telling visitors an exhibition that includes art owned by Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, is "fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby," representatives for the Smithsonian Institution say.

The sign, which will be posted at 10 a.m., comes amid allegations of sexual misconduct directed against Cosby by more than two dozen women. Some of them say he drugged and raped them. Cosby has not been charged in any of the alleged assaults.

Last week it emerged that the comedian testified in 2005 he obtained the sedative Quaalude with the intent of giving the drug to women with whom he wanted to have sex, and he acknowledged giving it to at least one woman. The Los Angeles Police Department says it is conducting at least one current criminal investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Cosby.

At issue in Tuesday's decision by the Smithsonian is the National Museum of African Art's "Conversations" exhibition, which includes works of African art from the Smithsonian's permanent collection and African-American art from the collection of Camille and Bill Cosby. The artworks from the Cosbys' collection are being seen by the public for the first time.

"The exhibition brings the public's attention to African American artists whose works have long been omitted from the study and appreciation of American art," the Smithsonian said in a statement last week.

But the exhibition drew immediate criticism. The Guardian said the Smithsonian "should be ashamed" of itself because the National Museum of African Art has received $716,000 from Cosby. On Tuesday, the Smithsonian said it would post a sign with the following message:

"A Message to Our Visitors about This Exhibition

"Allegations that publicly surfaced when we opened this exhibition in November 2014, now combined with recent revelations about Bill Cosby's behavior, cast a negative light on what should be a joyful exploration of African and African American art in this gallery.

"The National Museum of African Art in no way condones Mr. Cosby's behavior. We continue to present Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue because it is fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby.

"Most of the objects are from the permanent collection of the National Museum of African Art. About one-third are on loan from Camille and Bill Cosby. Though the exhibition does recognize their role in assembling those works, the purpose of the exhibition is to examine the interplay of artistic creativity in African and African American art — something that has been part of our museum's history since our founding more than 50 years ago. The exhibition brings public attention to artists whose art has not been seen, art that tells powerful and poignant stories about African American experiences.

"We invite you, our valued visitors, to provide your comments in the Visitor Book we have placed in the hallway at the exit to this exhibition. You can also send comments to our website at"

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)