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Bernard and Shirley Kinsey have explored and celebrated their African American heritage by collecting items of historical and cultural significance throughout their more than 40-year marriage— from an early version of the Emancipation Proclamation to correspondence between Malcolm X and Alex Haley, and from slave shackles to a 1773 first-edition copy of poems by Phillis Wheatley. The collection spans nearly four centuries and documents the hardships and the triumphs of the African American experience. “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey— Where Art and History Intersect” will be on view Oct. 15 through May 1, 2011, in the National Museum of African American History and Culture Gallery in the National Museum of American History at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. in Washington.
More than 100 items from the collection are brought together for a new exhibition organized by the Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Foundation for the Arts and Education in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Among the items are bills of sale, advertisements, letters and legal papers documenting the slave trade, hand-colored tintypes from the Civil War era and items spotlighting key moments in the civil rights movement, including the Woolworth store boycotts and the 1963 March on Washington. A history of the African American in art is charted through works by numerous celebrated artists, including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Sam Gilliam, Palmer Hayden, Richard Hunt, Lois Mailou Jones, Artis Lane, Richard Mayhew, James Porter and Henry O. Tanner.