Chiefs at the revered institution came under fire over the weekend (ends27Mar16) after The New York Times reported a new exhibition titled Taking the Stage would include Cosby-related objects, without any mention of his ongoing sexual assault scandal.

But on Monday (28Mar16), museum bosses stood by their decision to include two objects - a comic book from his TV series I Spy and the cover of his 1964 comedy album I Started Out as a Child - as one of the 150 items in the exhibit dedicated to film, television, and entertainment.

"There is not a Bill Cosby exhibition," Smithsonian bosses say in a statement. "The museum explores a diverse and complex history that reflects how all Americans are shaped by the African American experience."

Bosses at The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art were also criticised last year (15) when an exhibit featured a substantial amount of art from Cosby's private collection.

They eventually decided to post a disclaimer letting visitors know it was "fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby."

The Cosby Show star has been accused of rape, drugging, and performing inappropriate sex acts by over 50 women, but the comedian has repeatedly denied all the accusations.