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National Museum of African Art Statement “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue”

The National Museum of African Art is aware of the recent revelations about Bill Cosby’s behavior. The museum in no way condones this behavior. 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 artworks from the Cosbys’ collection are being seen by the public for the first time. The exhibition brings the public’s attention to African American artists whose works have long been omitted from the study and appreciation of American art.

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Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Addresses Prestigious Mandela Fellows

Mandela FellowsThe University of Virginia kicked off the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a signature program of the Obama administration, on Monday, June 22. Twenty-five young emerging leaders from Africa, selected by the Department of State, were welcomed to the luncheon ceremony at the university. The event was part of the Young African Leaders Initiative program (YALI), now in its second summer.

National Museum of African Art Director Johnnetta Betsch Cole was the keynote speaker for the program. Dr. Cole quoted Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, telling the fellows that “the size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you they are not big enough”. Dr. Cole also congratulated the accomplished men and women for being selected. “Many, many applied,” she said. “You are among the chosen. Africa’s youth is its strength and the possibilities are endless”.

President Obama named the young leaders “Mandela Fellows” to honor the life and work of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela. More than 30,000 women and men, aged 25 to 35, applied to become part of the 2015 fellowship class. Only 500 people were chosen. The Mandela Fellows will study business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management this summer at colleges and universities across the United States.

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Wade King Hosts Smithsonian Curator as Part of World Tour Africa

Stokes at Wade KingIn early May 2015, Deborah Stokes, curator of education at the National Museum of African Art (part of the Smithsonian Institution) in Washington D.C., was onsite at Wade King Elementary teaching about the art of Africa and hosting art workshops with all grades.

Her visit was part of a comprehensive schedule of activities around World Tour Africa, an annual celebration of a different region of the world.

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Museum Celebrates Former Volunteer on Her 100th Birthday!

Mrs. Lillian Pharr

On Thursday, June 4, National Museum of African Art and Smithsonian Library staff gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mrs. Lillian Pharr for her 35 years of service to the Smithsonian’s Warren M. Robbins Library. Pharr was joined by friends and family including her son Kofi Ofori and grandson Brian Pharr. Glowing tributes were given by museum director Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Warren M. Robbins librarian Janet L. Stanley.

The Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art was founded in 1971 and is the major resource center in the United States for the research and study of the visual arts of Africa.

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The Museum Welcomes Two Special Visitors

Colevisitors

Left to right: Anne Howard-Tristani, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, and Judith Terra

Museum director Johnnetta Betsch Cole met with Anne Howard-Tristani and Judith Terra on May 27, 2015.

Howard-Tristani is an international consultant and niece of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whose family were early supporters of African Art and friends of museum founder Warren M. Robbins. Terra is international philanthropist, former chair of the DC Commission on the Arts Humanities, and co-founder of the Terra Museum of American Art and Musee D’Art Americain.

Their visit underscored the strong and vibrant relationship between the Humphrey family, the local and international arts communities, and the National Museum of African Art.

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Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Gives Keynote for the exhibition Museums: pARTners in Learning at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC.

An Exciting Public-Private Partnership Is Putting the National Spotlight on Young Artists From Across the Country

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Gives Keynote

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art and incoming president of the Association of Museum Directors (AAMD), delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony for the exhibition Museums: pARTners in Learning at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. This exhibition showcases children’s artwork from 16 art museums nationwide, collaboration between the Association of Art Museum Directors and the Dept. of Education. Jamienne Studley, deputy under secretary and Jacquelyn Zimmermann, director of the Student Art Exhibit Program U.S. Department of Education, also spoke at the event along with students, teachers, and museum educators.

Participating museums included the Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR Denver Art Museum, Denver; CO Flint Institute of Arts, Flint; MI Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville TN; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL; Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ; and the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH.

The exhibition will be on display through June 30, 2015.

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Gives Keynote
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Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Gives Keynote
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Divine Gathering for the National Museum of African Art’s Newest Exhibition

Supporters, donors, and friends of the National Museum of African Art gathered in April to celebrate the opening of a groundbreaking new exhibition, The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists. Over 250 joined artists Joel Andrianomearisoa, Bili Bidjocka, Dimitri Fagbohoun, Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Jems Koko Bi, Aida Muleneh, and Moataz Nasr for the opening. The exhibition spans all four levels of the museum, covering nearly 22,000 square feet. The artwork featured in heaven, purgatory, and hell provides a modern twist to this classic epic. Through inspirational paintings, sculptures, textiles, films, and photography, more than 40 world-renowned and emerging contemporary artists from the African and the African diaspora respond to what is good, bad, and in between in the world today.

The Divine Comedy is the vision of internationally acclaimed critic, scholar, and guest curator Simon Njami, with assistance by National Museum of African Art curator Karen E. Milbourne. The goal of the exhibition is to “take heaven, purgatory, and hell out of the cradle of the church and to make them something everybody can live with,” said curator Simon Njami.

“This dramatic exhibition has transformed the museum from top to bottom to reveal some of the most compelling topics and approaches in contemporary art today,” said Milbourne.

The exhibition has been extended through Nov 1.

Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
Divine Comedy opening
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