Johnnetta Betsch Cole, author and editor of numerous books, is President Emerita of Spelman and Bennett Colleges, Director Emerita of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art, and former Chair and President of the National Council of Negro Women. She lives in Florida.
Art and Museum Life
The speeches in this chapter reflect on Johnnetta Betsch Cole's contributions to the world of art and museums after becoming director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in 2009. In her 2012 commencement speech at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, she highlights the importance of the arts for society. In her 2008 speech to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, she offers a feminist analysis of how gender is treated in opening exhibitions at museums. In her 2015 keynote address at the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting, she urges museum professionals to work toward greater diversity in staff, exhibitions, educational programs, and visitors. And in her 2012 speech at Clark Atlanta University, she brings attention to the works of African American art housed at HBCUs like Hampton, Clark Atlanta, Fisk, Lincoln, and Howard universities, interrogating crucial questions of “ownership” of these art collections.