Comedian Bill Cosby Gives Voice to African-American Artists By Loaning His Massive Art Collection to the Smithsonian


It's no secret that beloved comedian Bill Cosby is an art collector and has, over the years, amassed a pretty impressive collection. Today, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington announced that Cosby’s entire collection will soon be featured in an exhibit titled Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue, and we can't wait to check it out. 

As part of the African art museum’s 50th anniversary, the show celebrates renowned artists such as Faith Ringgold, Beauford Delaney, Jacob Lawrence, and Augusta Savage. The stunning exhibit will juxtapose Cosby's collection of more than 300 African-American works, on loan to the museum, with the Smithsonian’s own pieces by African artists. It will be organized into themes, placing emphasis on the subjects of history, creativity, power, identity, and artistry. Highlights include rare 18th- and early 19th-century portraits by Joshua Johnston, a 1894 piece The Thankful Poor by Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Cosby family quilts.

"The exhibition will encourage all of us to draw from the creativity that is Africa, to recognize the shared history that inextricably links Africa and the African diaspora and to seek the common threads that weave our stories together," says the museum's director, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, in announcing the exhibit.

In a written statement, Cosby said, “It’s so important to show art by African-American artists in this exhibition. To me, it’s a way for people to see what exists and to give voice to many of these artists who were silenced for so long, some of whom will speak no more.”

The exhibit will be open from November 9 through to early 2016.