Just a simple walk through the Kinsey Collection exhibition gives an impression of the massive scope and profound depth of the Kinsey Collection, which includes more than 200 works in all media of art and documents among the treasures collected by Bernard and Shirley Kinsey over five decades of marriage, collecting and curating.
With artifacts in the collection dating back to 1595 - a rare record of the baptism of the daughter of a slave in St. Augustine, Florida dates to that year - the exhibit refuses to be bound by the year of the birth of the United States when recognizing the contribution of Black people on the continent. It also refuses to be bound by the medium of contribution, with war records, legal documents, books, music, sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and photographs all playing a part of the exhibition's narrative.
The exhibition bills itself as "the intersection between art and history," but goes beyond that, telling as one narrative a story that has mostly only been told in pieces. Bernard Kinsey said, "The Kinsey Collection strives to give our ancestors a voice, a name, and a personality, enabling the viewer to understand the challenges, obstacles, triumphs, accomplishments and extraordinary sacrifice of African Americans in building this country." His son Khalil adds emphasis that "this is an American story, and most people only know a fraction of it.”
While the Kinsey Collection has been shown in more than 30 cities around the world to more than 15 million people, this is its first appearance in the Pacific Northwest.
The Kinsey African-American Art & History Collection will be on display at Tacoma Art Museum through November 28, 2021.