The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, dedicated in 1996, is housed in the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center on the campus of Spelman College in Atlanta. The museum’s primary mission is to support the curriculum and enrich the academic environment of the students, faculty, and staff of Spelman College.
Funded by a gift in 1988 from the comedic actor Bill Cosby and designed by deJongh Associates and R. L. Brown and Associates, the Cosby Academic Center includes 4,500 feet of gallery space and a viewing room for showing videos and films. In addition to the museum, the center also houses the Women’s Research and Resource Center, archives, classrooms, and office space.
The museum collection highlights contemporary African and African American art in a variety of media,with an emphasis on women artists and the art of central Africa. Established before the museum’s opening in 1996, the permanent collection includes approximately 450 works—paintings, sculptures, prints, and textiles. The collection’s greatest strength is twentieth-century painting and sculpture by African American artists. Among the nationally renowned artists whose work resides in the permanent collection are Jacob Lawrence (painting), Faith Ringgold (painting), and Hale Woodruff, the prominent painter, printmaker, and Spelman professor who established the art department at the Atlanta University Center in 1931.
Previous exhibitions at the museum include Race in Digital Space, a national exhibition from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology consisting of fifty artists in a variety of digital formats; selected works from the collection of Walter O. Evans, a Savannah collector of African American art; and exhibitions of works by Romare Bearden (prints and collage), Elizabeth Catlett (sculpture), and David Driskell (painting).