Amy Sherald’s Breonna Taylor portrait is now hanging in African American museum
The Taylor art piece is now co-owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. and The Speed Museum in Louisville.
When police shooting victim Breonna Taylor was gunned down in her own home in March 2020 in Louisville, her name became a rallying cry during a summer of passionate protests sparked by her death and that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, another Black slain via officers’ actions, two months later.
Taylor, an emergency room technician, had been a frontline worker at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Louisville police officers killed her while firing dozens of shots into her apartment executing a no-knock raid after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker — believing they were robbers attempting to break in — fired a single shot in self-defense.
Dozens of magazines, murals and billboards honored the 26-year-old Taylor, and a portrait was commissioned by artist Amy Sherald for the September 2020 cover of Vanity Fair. Seen in a flowing turquoise gown with an engagement ring on her finger, Taylor projects serenity, strength and regal beauty in Sherald’s portrait, which is now co-owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and The Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Taylor portrait will make its debut Friday in the National Museum, which is part of the Smithsonian, in a new exhibition called “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.” The display will open in the museum’s “Visual Art and the American Experience” space, exploring the Black Lives Matter movement, violence against African Americans and how art depicts Black resistance, resilience and protest.
The exhibit marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Smithsonian’s Black museum, the theme of which is “Living History.” According to Smithsonian officials, one of its major offerings is the new “Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap,” which will feature a new album, book and art exhibition celebrating the art form.
“I am honored and proud of the work the museum has accomplished over the past five years to share African American history and culture with the world,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“Our anniversary theme, ‘Living History,’ aptly captures the current moment and our mission — and inspires many of our efforts this year. Connecting the past to the present and the future is a hallmark of our work.”