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2017 Fingerman Lecture: Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole


My Love of Art: A Lifelong Journey

*Reservations required

“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.

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Speaker Biography:
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.

2017 Fingerman Lecture: Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole