The National Museum of African American History and Culture have been getting a lot of backlash on their inclusion of Bill Cosby in their “Taking the Stage” exhibit. However, they have stood by their decision and want to make it clear that they are not celebrating the star and his negative actions.
The Museum is an addition to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. It includes 11 inaugural exhibitions, featuring some of the 34,000 artifacts, including a railroad passenger car that dates to the Jim Crow era, a shawl worn by Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner's Bible and hundreds of other rarely seen objects that curators have been steadily collecting since the museum was established back in 2003.
“Taking the Stage” is one of the exhibits being featured that explores the history of African American participation in film, theatre, and television. Over 40 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault. However, he has denied the accusations, and has been avoided prosecution so far sue to a statue of limitations in most cases.
Regardless of Cosby’s current negative image, he has contributed to African American’s participation in media tremendously, yet the Museum makes it clear the exhibit does not praise the Cosby.
According to CNN, Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum, stated, "This is not an exhibition that 'honors or celebrates' Bill Cosby but one that acknowledges his role, among many others, in American entertainment…Some people feel that the Smithsonian should eliminate all mention of Bill Cosby as a result of recent revelations."
The museum disagreed with this perspective, with Bunch explaining the importance of all history to be unveiled for visitors to truly understand what has been often erased and forgotten.
As of now the exhibit is set to continue to include Cosby. "Like all of history, our interpretation of Bill Cosby is a work in progress, something that will continue to evolve as new evidence and insights come to the fore…Visitors will leave the exhibition knowing more about Mr. Cosby's impact on American entertainment, while recognizing that his legacy has been severely damaged by the recent accusations,” Bunch stated in his statement according to CNN.
The Museum is set to open in Late September.