Beginning this Friday, the SF African American Historical and Cultural Society will host a renowned collection of artistic and historical artifacts from African and African American history gathered by a California couple. African American History: From the Collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey includes a vast array of art, artifacts and historical documents. This is the first time that the collection has been exhibited in San Francisco. The collection, currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., has been seen by more than 3 million people in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago, and Florida. This exhibit is made possible by support from the San Francisco Grants for the Arts Program, California Council for the Humanities, the San Francisco Public Library and the African American Art and Culture Complex. The Kinsey Collection is an extensive exhibition drawn from the artistic and historical treasures collected by the Kinseys. From rarely seen slave owners’ documents and brilliant expressions in paint to glimpses into private eighteenth and nineteenth-century lives, the Kinsey Collection reflects a rich cultural and historical heritage which they hope to preserve for future generations.
The Kinsey Collection also includes works of art by important African American artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, and Henry O. Tanner; as well as historical documents and artifacts of Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Alain Locke, Phillis Wheatley, and Malcolm X. When viewed as a whole, the ninety plus objects reveal important aspects of American history and culture. “Art is precious, but historical documents are rare,” says Bernard Kinsey. Christina Orr-Cahall, Director of the Norton Museum of Art, added “To have members of our own community develop and share with us their outstanding collection of African American art and historical pieces is extraordinary. We are most grateful to Bernard and Shirley Kinsey for letting us learn through seeing some of the incredible achievements of African Americans in the last four centuries. Each and every one of us of us should make certain that we take advantage of this experience”.