Home Art collection Comprehensive study of African American history debuts statewide at Auburn Museum

Comprehensive study of African American history debuts statewide at Auburn Museum


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On August 23, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts at Auburn University became the first location in Alabama to feature “The Kinsey African American Art and History Collection” when it opened its fall exhibits to the public.

One of the most comprehensive surveys of African-American history outside of the Smithsonian Institution, the exhibit is on view through December 30 and available with free museum admission. The Auburn facility showcases more than 100 artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, rare books, letters, and manuscripts that offer new insights into the nation’s history and culture.

Organized by the Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Foundation for the Arts and Education and KBK Enterprises Inc., the award-winning global pledge represents more than 50 years of fundraising by the organization’s namesake. The family’s mission is to raise awareness and celebrate the achievements of African Americans dating back to 1595.

Depicting the intersections of art and history, the exhibit includes bills of sale, advertisements, and documents documenting the slave trade; hand-colored Civil War-era tintypes; Harlem Renaissance art and literature; and artifacts from the civil rights movement. The history of African Americans in art is traced through works by Grafton Tyler Brown, Bisa Butler, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert S. Duncanson, Alma Thomas, Charles White and Hale Woodruff.

“Intrinsically integrated into the content of the collection and the way we share it, Human to live and tell the stories of human beings with the same hopes, desires, dreams, loves and ultimately humanity as anyone else – but have often, through the lens of American history – been deprived of these things very human,” said Khalil Kinsey, Managing Director and Chief Curator of the Collection and Exhibits.

Kinsey emphasized that the exhibit is a retrospective of American history, noting the many important contributions of African Americans.

“Given the unique opportunities for an academic art museum to support scholarship, the Kinsey Collection provides a window into our past and our future,” said Cindi Malinick, the museum’s executive director. “Layer Auburn’s location, this relevant and engaging exhibit will spark significant scrutiny and dialogue.”

Located on the Auburn campus, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is the cultural heart of an Alabama public research institution serving students, faculty, and the Southeast. The University Art Collection includes mid-20th century American Modernism, Mexican Modernism, contemporary prints and photographs, Audubon etchings, works on paper depicting the South, ceramics, and visionary art.