The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect

The Cultivators, 2000, Samuel L. Dunson, Jr., Oil on canvas, 38.5 x 26.5 inches

This exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Foundation for the Arts and Education. 

Over 100 artifacts, documents, and artwork spanning some 400 years of history will be on display from the extraordinary collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey. The artifacts illustrate the hardships and triumphs of the African American experience.

Among the objects are 19th century slave shackles, a letter from a Union soldier recounting the 1862 murder of slaves in Tennessee, and a first-edition, 1773, copy of the first book ever published in the U.S. by an African American, a collection of poems by Phillis Wheatley.

Organized into four themes, the exhibition honors the lives of famous African Americans like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as those people whose identities have been lost to history, like a young girl featured in an ambrotype portrait, circa 1855, whose name remains unknown. 

Special tours, public programs and educational materials will be offered during the exhibition’s run at the Smithsonian. 

Learn more about the exhibition on the National Museum of African American History and Culture Web site.