The Smithsonian was criticized when their National Museum of African Art opened a show last November entitled “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue,” due to the participation of Bill Cosby, who donated many artworks from his personal collection for the exhibition. The opening of “Conversations” roughly coincided with more than two dozen women stepping forward and claiming that Cosby had sexually abused them, with accusations stemming back to the 1960s. The Smithsonian has stood by the show, and it will remain open until early 2016.
Today, the Associated Press published the contents of a newly unsealed court document from 2005 in which Cosby admits under oath to purchasing sedatives to give to women. The document includes the following transcription between Cosby and a lawyer, via CNN:
“When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” [the lawyer] asked.
“Yes,” Cosby replied.
Asked for comment this afternoon, the Smithsonian’s head of communications sent an email addressing the new development regarding Cosby:
“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 collection.
The artworks from the collection of the Cosbys 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.”