CCH Pounder, 70, is passionate about art. The avid collector, along with her late husband, Boubacar Koné, founded the Musée Boribana, the first privately owned contemporary museum in Dakar, Senegal, which they gifted to the nation in 2014. Works from Pounder’s private collection are on display in an exhibit called “Diaspora Stories” at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center in Chicago. The ER, NCIS: New Orleans and Avatar actress shares tips for novice art collectors, movies that inspired her and how she celebrated her 70th.
You don’t just collect art, you also paint portraits. How did you choose to focus on acting over making art as your career?
I had a wonderful mentor. I had always been fighting as to whether to be an artist or an actor, and she said, “Well, you can be an artist all your life, but acting is for the young people.” I said, OK, so I’ll do acting first, and then I’ll switch and I’ll become an artist. Well, it doesn’t quite work out like that, does it really? But I’ve always stayed with it. It’s always been secondary. And I think there is a switch coming along, except that I’m not doing it as an artist, I’m doing it as an art appreciator.
Do you have a favorite museum?
There are museums that influenced me when we were building our [Musée Boribana] museum. And knowing that I couldn’t possibly afford a certain type of museum, size of museum and the expense of that museum — I fell in love with the Musée Dapper, a French museum specializing in African art. It was spectacular — the works in there, the presentation. [The museum closed in 2017.] That was what told me, “Yes, you can do it.”