Oct 07, 2011-Mar 04, 2012


Over 100 objects from three public and private California collections notable for the stories they convey about the contributions of people of African descent.

Among these contributions includes those made to American history, visual and material culture through art works, photographs, historical books, magazines, journals, sheet music, proclamations, manuscripts, photographs, posters and other ephemera. The collections are notable for their quality, variety of styles and mediums, historical significance and for the collector’s distinctive philosophic approach to collecting. The exhibition launches a series which will explore in depth through selected works the aesthetic choices and socio-political strategies of collectors across generations and historical periods and their impulse to acquire, reclaim and re-value the images, identity, stories and cultural objects produced by and about people of African descent.

Represented in the exhibition are selections from The Collection of Alden and Mary Kimbrough which is comprised of objects from the sister and brother team of Mary and Alden Kimbrough, from The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum and The Melvin Holmes Collection of African American Art. The history of the Kimbrough Collection began with Dr. Jack Johnson Kimbrough and features an exceptionally high quality and unusually diverse assortment of books, posters, and ephemera documenting the lives, culture, and history of African Americans.

Extraordinary for its variety and depth, the collection of the Los Angeles based Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum includes priceless and often eclectic examples of Black Americana, rare books, movies, and photographs rescued by Dr. Mayme A. Clayton and stored in her garage. Selections from the Melvin Holmes African American Art Collection consists of modern and contemporary artworks collected by San Francisco collector, Melvin Holmes that demonstrate the broad and diverse choices made by Black artists related to artistic approach, aesthetic, themes, styles and medium and that in many cases also references personal memory, a sense of place and present striking images of Black people in their work and lives.

Each collection will be featured in an individual gallery space and through photographs and videos will showcase the collectors’ stories and approach to acquiring their materials.