The head of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art is sorry she took $716,000 from Bill Cosby and included 60 pieces of his personal collection for an exhibit still showing.

Johnnetta Cole of National Museum of African Art. Photo via
Johnnetta Cole, director of the Washington gallery, wrote in The Root that she wouldn’t have done it had she known the sex-abuse allegations against the TV star and comedian.

Why did she leave the show open?

“The answer is that this exhibition is not about the life and career of Bill Cosby,” she wrote. “It is about the interplay of artistic creativity in remarkable works of African and African-American art and what visitors can learn from the stories this art tells. … More than 150,000 people have visited ‘Conversations’ since it opened last November, and we expect thousands more to see the exhibition in the coming months.”

The museum website also includes a message to visitors: “The National Museum of African Art in no way condones Mr. Cosby’s behavior. We continue to present Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue because it is fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby.”

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