The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) proudly brings the national award-winning Kinsey African American Art & History Collection to our community this summer. A unique merging of art and history, the public exhibition includes over 150 artifacts spanning from masterful paintings and sculpture, to letters, rare books, photographs and more. Each
piece shines a triumphant light on largely unknown works of art and untold stories of Black Americans throughout history to the present day. Running from July 31 to November 28, 2021, the collection offers a more balanced and inclusive narrative of the American story.

The roots of the exhibition were established over 50 years ago, as Bernard and Shirley Kinsey traveled the world together in pursuit of cultural exploration, while simultaneously collecting both memories and artwork. Today, the collection continues to thrive and expand with oversight and leadership from their son, Khalil Kinsey, who serves as Chief Curator and General Manager. The Kinseys are true stewards and protectors of historical material and fine art, as their traveling exhibition has toured over 30 U.S. cities and reached more than 15 million people. Their aim, says Khalil, is that after experiencing the collection, “people leave and say – I didn’t know that.” The guiding light of the Kinsey mission is simply sharing information and encouraging visitors to use what they learn, employ it in their own lives and continue to pass along that information to others. According to Khalil, the collection is their “small contribution to the conversation. And it has been a wonderful journey.”

The Kinsey Collection is especially significant for Tacoma and surrounding communities because it is the first presentation in the Pacific Northwest. TAM’s Executive Director, David Setford shares, “We are lucky to have this collection at the museum. It is an opportunity for people to learn together . . . and to learn the truth about this untold history.”

The TAM is excited to help shape and showcase an exhibition that dives deeper into the shared human experience and fosters new conversations and dialogue amongst community members. The Kinsey African American
Art & History Collection is the embodiment of black excellence, and its contents challenge us to examine and acknowledge truths surrounding the generations of adversity Africans Americans faced in route to celebrating their artistry and contributions to this nation and beyond.

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