African Art museum and Rich Rapists

What is the Smithsonian thinking by exhibiting art from the Bill Cosby collection when he is accused of rape by more than 40 women? How do the artists feel being associated with an ‘alleged’ rapist in a public setting? Would the museum be so cavalier if the art originated from an accused Nazi torturer – or a forger, for example? These are some of the moral issues that the African Art Museum is dodging by not addressing the problem and continuing their show ‘Conversations’, based largely on Cosby’s collection of African American art.  They are practicing moral amnesia in pandering for artwork instead of taking a stand. It is the equivalent of not confronting the issue of slavery just because it is accepted by others in society and you gain benefit. In other words it is unacceptable for the African Art Museum to be guilty of supporting rape by omission, especially when you have standards to respect and hold an important position in the community for exhibiting African art. The Smithsonian is complicit in damaging the image and standing of African-American artists in the exhibition by not addressing this failing. Their directors and curators are also complicit in this failure and should recognize it by at least including a public statement with the exhibition distancing themselves from the donor. It is sad to see blacks in high places neglect to protest against such injustice only because it concerns a rich and prominent black collector and they gain from the omission. This kind of collusion is too close to corruption and the Smithsonian needs to wake up before their whole institution gets smeared through indulging more indecent donations without at least showing some sign of remorse. Let’s hope when it opens next year the Smithsonian’s new African American History and Culture Museum shows a better side of discretion.

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