Hank Willis Thomas | Speed Art Museum will reflect on the death of Breonna Taylor in an exhibition

Gabriella Angeleti for The Art Newspaper

The artists Theaster Gates, Amy Sherald, Hank Willis Thomas and other contributors will lead an advisory panel on a forthcoming exhibition at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, that reflects on the killing of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency room technician who was fatally shot by the police during a botched raid in her apartment in March of last year.

The show Promise, Witness, Remembrance is slated to open on 7 April and run until 6 June and is being guest-curated by Allison Glenn, the associate curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Glenn worked closely with Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, who has been "a guiding voice in informing the exhibition", she says.

The show will span five galleries that typically house the museum's Dutch and Flemish collection of artworks. While the artist list has not been announced, Glenn says the show will aim to "connect the local with the national" and reflect on the nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations that erupted after the high-profile police killings of Black Americans.

Glenn, who has previously served as a curatorial associate of Prospect New Orleans, was tapped for her "remarkable history of working deeply with great artists who are dealing with real events", says Stephen Reily, the director of the museum. 

"The killing of Breonna Taylor and a year of protests have changed the course of our city and, with Glenn and our panel, we've thought deeply about what role an art museum can play in serving a city-and a country-that has undergone the trauma we have," Reily says.

The museum will waive its $20 admission fee to underscore that it does not wish to "monetise a cultural experience or the grief we have all gone through", Reily adds. "It's a sensitive issue, but art and artists can maybe help us move forward."

February 25, 2021