My Love of Art: A Lifelong Journey
“In the segregated south where I grew up, African Americans did not have access to public museums and other cultural institutions. But I was fortunate to grow up in a family where the arts were valued. My formal education, including field work in Liberia, West Africa; in African American communities in the U.S.; and in several countries in the Caribbean broadened my exposure to the art of the African continent and its diaspora. During the past eight years, I had the privilege of serving as the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. It was a remarkable experience that propelled me into an even deeper love affair with African art and museums. I remain committed to efforts to bring greater diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion to all art museums and other cultural institutions.”
This lecture is the twenty-eighth in the series made possible through generous gifts by Louis and Lois Fingerman.
Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a prominent academic and consultant on issues of diversity and inclusion. She enjoyed successful careers in both museums and academia. With a Ph.D. in anthropology, Cole was a college professor for decades before being recruited as president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She was also president of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a prolific author, editor, and recipient of numerous awards and 64 honorary degrees. She served as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and as a member of the scholarly advisory committee of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In March, she retired as Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.