Portrait of the Cosbys from the couple's collection by Simmie Knox (1984)
Portrait of the Cosbys from the couple's collection by Simmie Knox (1984)


The list of organizations trying to erase any affiliation with Bill Cosby keeps growing.  NBC and Netflix, for instance, announced they would scrap (for now, anyway) already-planned projects with the comedian in the wake of an increasing number of horrific rape allegations against him.

Still, an increasing number of organizations are making news for sticking by Cosby, and the scrutiny surrounding them is mounting. Last week, City Desk reported that Ben’s Chili Bowl would keep its large Cosby mural up on the façade of its flagship U Street NW location and continue to allow Cosby to eat free there for life.

Now, the Smithsonian responds to criticism lodged against its Cosby-associated art exhibition at the National Museum of African Art, saying it will keep the exhibit intact. The Smithsonian wrote in a statement today that maintaining the collection does not imply a stance on the longstanding rape allegations against Cosby that have garnered fresh media attention in recent weeks.

Pieces from Cosby and his wife Camille‘s personal art collection are on display at the museum as part of the an exhibit called “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue”—-a show that, as part of the museum’s 50th anniversary, is intended to “celebrate its unique history and contributions toward furthering meaningful dialogue between Africa and the African diaspora.”

The exhibit features dozens of pieces from the Cosby’s collection,” a contribution that the museum’s website calls “extraordinarily generous.”

“It reflects their understanding of the importance of the National Museum of African Art and its central place in fostering meaningful dialogue about ideas and issues that unite us all as part of the human family,” the website reads.

In its statement today, the Smithsonian further writes that plans for this exhibit dates back two years and it’s about the art and the artists that created the work, not Cosby. The full statement:

The National Museum of African Art’s mission is to inspire conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of African arts and cultures. We began planning for the “Conversations” exhibition two years ago to help showcase the history of American art created by persons of African descent. It brings the public’s attention to artists whose works have long been omitted from the study of American art history. We are aware of the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, who, along with his wife Camille, owns many of the works in the “Conversations” exhibition. Exhibiting this important collection does not imply any position on the serious allegations that have been made against Mr. Cosby. The exhibition is centrally about the artworks and the artists who created them.

Photo via Smithsonian