Officials at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington have decided to continue displaying an exhibition that showcases Bill Cosby’s private art collection, despite the sexual assault allegations against him.
“First and fundamentally, this is an art exhibit,” Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for art, history and culture, told the Associated Press. “So it’s not about the life and career of Bill Cosby. It’s about the artists.”
According to the AP, about a third of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art’s 50th anniversary exhibition came from Bill and Camille Cosby’s African-American art collection, and the other two-thirds came from the museum’s own collection.
Much of the Cosbys’ collection, which includes paintings by one-time slaves, pieces commissioned for the comedian and his wife, a piece by Cosby’s daughter, and quilts made in tribute to Cosby and his murdered son, Ennis, had never been seen before by the public, the AP adds. The exhibit also includes images of Cosby and quotations from him.
More than three dozen women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, though he has never been charged with a crime. Last week, it was revealed that Cosby admitted in a 2005 deposition that he obtained Quaaludes with the intent of drugging young women in order to have sex with them.
In the days since that deposition was made public, a statue of Cosby was removed from Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. There have also been calls for his Presidential Medal of Freedom to be revoked and for his star to be removed from Hollywood’s Walk of Fame — which the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president said will not happen.