The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection opens in Panama City


PANAMA CITY — Florida State University Panama City is hosting a grand opening for the world-renowned Kinsey African American Art and History Collection on Friday, April 22.

The exhibit tells stories of African American resilience, creativity and achievement over more than 400 years through paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, rare books and documents – from the bronze bust of Frederick Douglass to letters from Malcolm X and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rare and primary historical objects and artifacts date from 1595 to the present day, and art created by African American artists dates from 1865.

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“History is not a dark story; it’s an American story,” said Bernard Kinsey, whose collection with his wife, Shirley, spans more than 40 years. “We’re really proud of our work and think it’s the kind of work America needs right now.”

Organized by the Bernard & Shirley Kinsey Foundation for the Arts and Education and KBK Enterprises Inc., the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection opens to the public with a grand ribbon opening and exhibition tours with the Kinseys, followed by a presentation by Bernard Kinsey on the “myth of absence”.

Opening day concludes with an outdoor performance by cheer bands featuring FAMU Marching 100 students and FSU marching leaders at 4 p.m. Friday.

The Cultivators, 2000, oil on canvas by Samuel L. Dunson, Jr.

“We are honored to have an exhibition of this caliber coming to FSU Panama City,” said Dean Randy Hanna. “This collection documents not only American history, but also the enormous contribution of black artists to American culture.”

After opening weekend, exhibit hours will be noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday through mid-July. The exhibit is also available for viewing by appointment for individuals and groups, including schools and other organizations.

The Kinsey African American Art and History Collection is sponsored by Panama City Toyota, the St. Joe Community Foundation, Walborsky Bradley & Fleming, Florida Power & Light, Visit Panama City Beach, and the Charles A. Whitehead Foundation, in addition to anonymous donors and individual sponsors such as Carrie Baker.

Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, 2002, oil on canvas by Artis Lane.

About the Kinsey Collection

Florida natives Bernard and Shirley Kinsey met at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee in 1963, and after marrying in 1967, they set a goal of traveling to 100 different countries in their lifetime. The Kinsey collection began with the couple’s desire to instill in their son, Khalil, an appreciation for the arts of cultures around the world and to support emerging artists.

But it was their son’s family history assignment for school, when they realized they could only trace their family tree back four generations, that led them to “rediscover” African-American history. American that had not been told.

“Really, we believe this is a human story about human experience and connection, illuminating the unknown story,” said Khalil Kinsey, chief operating officer and collection curator.

Bernard Kinsey refers to the “myth of absence”, explaining that the contributions of African Americans, whether in science, industry, politics or art, have been omitted from history books and that the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection aims to provide the narrative.

The Florida Department of Education adopted the Kinsey Collection as the basis for teaching 3.6 million students about African American history. The Kinseys have also published a companion book, “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey”, featuring items on display in the exhibit and other items of interest in their collection.

For more information, visit

Grand Opening Schedule

friday april 22

10 a.m.: Cutting of the inauguration ribbon; visits to exhibitions in the Allan Bense Atrium open to the public

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