the kinsey collection

The Kinsey Collection: Unearthing Black History Through Art & Artifact

For over five decades, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, alongside their son Khalil, have woven together a remarkable tapestry of African American history and culture: The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection.

The kinsey collection
Bernard and Shirley Kinsey (Artis Lane 2002)

The Kinsey Collection, encompassing over 25,000 objects, stands as one of the most comprehensive of its kind globally. It’s a testament to the Kinseys’ unwavering passion for preserving and showcasing the triumphs and struggles of Black America across time.

the kinsey collection
The Negro Motorist Green Book (Victor H. Green 1941)

The Kinseys weren’t simply accumulating artifacts; they were embarking on a mission to ensure these stories were never forgotten. Their dedication is evident in the collection’s diversity.

Renowned works by Elizabeth Catlett, Alma Thomas, and Jacob Lawrence share space with lesser-known but equally significant pieces. Everyday objects, captivating photographs, and historical documents offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of ordinary Black Americans throughout the centuries.

the kinsey collection
First Colored Senator and Representatives In the 41st Congress of the United States

Unearthing Gems: The Kinsey Acquisition Process

The Kinseys’ approach to collecting wasn’t confined to auction houses or galleries. They actively sought out pieces with personal connections, sometimes unearthing hidden treasures in unexpected places.

A poignant example is a rare first-edition book of poems by Phillis Wheatley. The Kinseys acquired this piece from a descendant of the Wheatley family, ensuring its legacy would continue to inspire.

Their passion for discovery also led them to scour antique shops and flea markets. A keen eye for detail helped them identify a simple yet powerful artifact – a hand-stitched quilt from the Underground Railroad era. This piece, likely a conductor’s map, speaks volumes about the ingenuity and resilience of enslaved people during their fight for freedom.

A Legacy Shared with the World

The Kinseys haven’t limited the impact of their collection. They actively share it with the world through traveling exhibitions. Witnessed by over 15 million people globally, The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection serves as a powerful educational resource.

It creates a deeper understanding of African American history and culture, inspiring dialogue and igniting a sense of appreciation for the enduring spirit of Black America.

The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection is a monumental tribute to the African American experience. Through their dedication and passion, the Kinsey family has not only preserved a legacy but has also ignited a deeper understanding and appreciation for Black history and culture across the globe.



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