After coming under fire for an exhibition that includes artworks owned by Bill Cosby, The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art has announced that it will be posting a disclaimer to accompany the showcase this week.
The museum says it will be installing a sign at the “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue” exhibition on Wednesday informing visitors that the collection on display is in no way a tribute to the 78-year-old comedian, NPR reports.
A disclaimer for the exhibition can already be found on the museum’s website. It begins:
“The National Museum of African Art is aware of the recent revelations about Bill Cosby’s behaviour. The museum in no way condones this behaviour. Our current ‘Conversations’ exhibition, which includes works of African art from our permanent collection and African American art from the collection of Camille and Bill Cosby, is fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not the owners of the collections.”
The disclaimer comes after an Associated Press report revealed that Cosby donated $716,000 to the museum, which “virtually covers the entire cost” of the “Conversations” exhibit.
“Museum industry guidelines call for museums to make public the source of funding when an art lender funds an exhibit. The Cosbys' financial donation was not disclosed in press materials issued by the Smithsonian to publicize the exhibit, nor mentioned on the museum's website,” the news outlet said.
The showcase, which has reportedly attracted 150,000 visitors to date, also features artwork by Cosby’s daughter, Erika Ranee, and commentary by members of the actor’s family.
“Far from being passive lenders to this exhibition, Cosby and his family are very visible in it, as commentators and even as a contributing artist,” wrote Jonathan Jones, art critic at The Guardian. “The museum was spectacularly foolish if it failed to see it was in effect endorsing and ‘condoning’ Cosby.”
Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, including rape.
Last week, it emerged that the actor testified in 2005 to obtaining qualuudes with the intention of giving them to women with whom he planned to have sex. He admitted to giving the drug to at least one woman.
Cosby has never been criminally charged in any of the alleged assaults.
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