The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art’s director says that if she had been aware of sexual assault allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, she wouldn’t have moved forward with an exhibit featuring artworks he owns.
In a first-person piece in “The Root” online magazine Wednesday, Johnnetta B. Cole said that she’s “devastated” by the allegations but that the exhibit should stay open because it’s about the “interplay of artistic creativity,” not Cosby’s life and career.
The exhibit opened in November. The museum has stood by it as the allegations got more attention and since last month’s release of a 2005 deposition in which Cosby acknowledged getting sedatives to give to women before sex.
Cole says the museum didn’t hide the fact that the Cosbys funded the exhibition with a $716,000 gift but should have made that more clear. She says she didn’t know about the allegations when the museum accepted the gift.