Tim Bork, the evening’s host and the museum’s vice chair, along with Shigeko, treated guests to the special sit down dinner at their historic Georgetown R street home, which has the former floor of an old White House in it, used to be the home of a Hope Diamond owner, and now houses one of the city’s best contemporary art collections –Andy Warhol’s “Vote McGovern” print of Nixon was the backdrop to cocktails in the lounge. Shigeko runs the contemporary art gallery Mu Project on Wisconsin Ave.
Rosalind Kainyah, President of DeBeers USA – a major corporate donor to the museum – was in attendance along with her heir apparent, Kobi Aidoo. And speaking of the Hope diamond, Richard Kurin of the Smithsonian Institution and author of “Hope Diamond – The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem” I’m sure enjoyed telling stories about how the Hope Diamond used to be thrown in the home using a baseball glove.
The importance of the museum’s place in the ranks of the Smithsonian’s nineteen museums was reflected in the attendance of the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, G. Wayne Clough and his wife Anne. I had a chance to speak with Dr. Clough earlier in the evening about the direction of the Smithsonian.
“It’s an exciting time,” the white-bearded former Georgia Tech president told me, “Its a 2.0 world and we have the ability to, for the first time ever, make the Smithsonian’s 137 million objects available to anyone, including school kids throughout the country.” He added, “Importantly, we can also hear back from them and get their thoughts.”
But the night belonged to Cole, who wisely used the opportunity to reach out to Ambassador Olhaye, inviting him and all of the African ambassadors in D.C. to become part of the NMAfA programming. The energy, experience and sheer focus of the former collegiate president of the nation’s only two all-female predominately black colleges, Spelman and Bennett, will be needed to bring this emerging institution to the next level.
Also in attendance: Virginia Clark, James D. Staton, Jr., Julius Coles, Esther Coopersmith, George Dalley, Bitsey Folger and Dr. Workman , Anita Henri, Carolyn Jordan, Richard and Allyn Kurin, Joia Nuria, Tanya Lombard, Art Mbanefo and Agnes Bajela, Wendell McCain, Gwen Mikell , Christine Mullen Kreamer, Bernadette Paolo, Mark and Angela Pickett, Lucia Riddle, Noah and Martha Samara, Hope Sullivan, Septime Webre and Jeffrey Wright.