The New York Times reports the museum made the decision this week to address the assault claims in the exhibition as well as recognize his pioneering work in entertainment. Founding Director Lonnie Bunch released a statement on the matter, claiming the exclusion of the details will leave an “incomplete interpretation of the American past.”
” For too long, aspects of African American history have been erased and undervalued, creating an incomplete interpretation of the American past,” Bunch said. “This museum seeks to tell, in the words of the eminent historian John Hope Franklin, “the unvarnished truth” that will help our visitors to remember and better understand what has often been erased and forgotten. 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.”
On the grand scheme of the things, Cosby’s exhibition is one of over 3,000 pieces on topics such as slavery, music, military life and entertainment. Some of the items presented representing the comedian include the 1964 comedy record, “I Started Out as a Child,” clips from “The Cosby Show,” “I-Spy” and 30 other programs. The labels in the exhibit plans to acknowledges “The Cosby Show” as “one of the best-loved American TV shows.”
Another Smithsonian location felt similar backlash after Cosby’s personal art was seen in the National Museum of African Art last summer. The museum later reconfirmed that the collection wasn’t created by Cosby, but works the comedian collected.
The National Museum of African American History will open its doors later this fall.