May 6, 2021
Lyman Allyn Art Museum
Press Contact: Rebecca Dawson, Director of Communications
860.443.2545 ext. 2112 / [email protected]

Finding voices of the African Diaspora that might otherwise be forgotten is at the heart of the Davis Collection.

NEW LONDON – The Lyman Allyn Art Museum is pleased to announce the opening of Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art on Saturday, May 29. The extensive exhibition celebrates the passion of an ordinary couple who spent more than 35 years as devoted connoisseurs building a collection of vivid artworks that is both resonant and remarkably personal. Memories & Inspiration will be on view at the Lyman Allyn, the only venue in the Northeast, through August 22.

The show presents 62 selected works from a body of art amassed by Kerry, a retired mailman, and Betty, a former television news producer, who gladly gave up many ordinary comforts to fill their home with these extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as their principal luxuries. Their collection includes works by Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White. In selecting their work, the couple did not search exclusively for well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, they focused on gathering and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the black image.

“We’re delighted to share this beautiful and eclectic collection with visitors to the Lyman Allyn,” said Director Sam Quigley. “It includes an exciting mix of artists and styles, but the couple’s story and personal connections to the art is equally powerful.”

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art was organized and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. It is supported by the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts; and an anonymous foundation.

The virtual opening reception will be Friday, May 28 from 6 – 7 pm. Please visit the calendar of events tab on  for event registration information. 

For more information, please contact Rebecca Dawson by email at [email protected].

About the Collection
Kerry Davis, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is a former sergeant of the United States Air Force, a retired carrier with the United States Postal Service, and an ordained deacon. He began collecting in the mid-1980s in partnership with his wife, Betty, who shared his passion for art. Begun originally with the modest aim of enhancing the interior decor of their mid-century split-level home in suburban Atlanta, the Davises’ collection has grown to over 300 works by some of the most distinguished African American artists of the twentieth century.

Inspired by previous generations of African American art collectors, who understood the importance of preserving cultural expression, memory, and imagery, Davis has sought to contribute to this legacy and be a source of inspiration for others in the community. The Davis residence—dubbed an “In-Home Museum” by visiting neighbors, parishioners, and friends—serves as a meeting place and cultural hub for artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts. Kerry and Betty have two children and one granddaughter.

About International Arts & Artists
International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit

About the Lyman Allyn Art Museum
The Lyman Allyn Art Museum welcomes visitors from New London, southeastern Connecticut and all over the world. Established in 1926 by a gift from Harriet Allyn in memory of her seafaring father, the Museum opened the doors of its beautiful neo-classical building surrounded by 12 acres of green space in 1932. Today it presents a number of changing exhibitions each year and houses a fascinating collection of over 17,000 objects from ancient times to the present; artworks from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, with particularly strong collections of American paintings, decorative arts and Victorian toys and doll houses.

The museum is located at 625 Williams Street, New London, Connecticut, exit 83 off I-95. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 – 5 p.m., and closed Mondays and major holidays. For more information call 860.443.2545, ext. 2129 or visit us on Facebook or the web at

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