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DFW museum hosts groundbreaking collection of African-American art - CultureMap Fort Worth

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A groundbreaking exhibition of more than 150 artworks, photos, and rare documents is heading to Dallas' African American Museum. "The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection," celebrating the achievements and contributions of black Americans from 1595 to present time, will go on display September 21-March 1.

The exhibition, considered one of the most comprehensive surveys of African-American history and culture outside the Smithsonian Institution, will feature treasures amassed by Shirley and Bernard Kinsey during their five decades of marriage. The display of paintings and sculpture, photos, rare books, letters, manuscripts, and more has toured 30 cities in the United States and around the world.

According to a release, the exhibition has been cited in three national awards, including the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

"Representing the intersection between art and history, the exhibition covers the lives and artistry of African-American people from the 16th century through the years of slavery and emancipation, to the civil-rights movement and modern day," the release says. "Highlights include bills of sale, advertisements, letters and legal papers documenting the slave trade; hand-colored tintypes from the Civil War era; art and literature from the Harlem Renaissance; and items spotlighting key moments in the civil rights movement, including the Woolworth store boycotts and the 1963 March on Washington."

Shirley and Bernard Kinsey, natives of Florida, have amassed what has become a repository for African-American intellectual, historical, and artistic works. Their son, Khalil, now serves as general manager and chief curator.

"The Kinsey Collection strives to give our ancestors a voice, name and personality, enabling the viewer to understand the challenges, obstacles, triumphs, accomplishments and extraordinary sacrifice of African Americans in building this country," Bernard Kinsey says in the release.

Celebrated artists represented in the collection include Alma Thomas, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Sam Gilliam, Charles White, Palmer Hayden, Augusta Savage, Lois Mailou Jones, Artis Lane, James Porter, and Robert S. Duncanson.

Other artifacts on display include the earliest-known black baptism record and black marriage record; a 1773 first-edition copy of poems by Phillis Wheatley; an 1853 copy of author Solomon Northrup's 12 Years A Slave (which was made into a movie and won the Academy Award for Best Picture); and a copy of the 1857 Dred Scott Decision, the release notes.

There's also an early version of the Emancipation Proclamation; an illustration of the "first colored senator and representatives" in the 41st and 42nd Congress; a 1901 copy of Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery; a letter from Malcolm X to Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family; and a signed copy of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, a landmark legal decision made in 1954 by the Supreme Court ending the legal barriers to desegregation.

The Dallas display is the first time in two years that the comprehensive collection will be seen in America.

The arrival of The Kinsey Collection comes as the African American Museum, Dallas celebrates its 45th year. As part of the exhibition, the museum will host a lecture series and book signings. Tickets to the museum are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (65 and older) and children ages 4-12, and free for children 3 and under. Check the website for discounts, schedule, and other details.