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Smithsonian Scandal: Blame Homophobia

Smithsonian Scandal: Blame Homophobia


On Tuesday and Wednesday, museum experts attended a symposium and debated the Smithsonian Institution's removal of a video from an exhibit last fall. The result? Several curators and art critics objected to the move, which many considered the result of blatant homophobia.

The National Portrait Gallery's exhibit "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" drew complaints last year from conservative groups because a video, created by the late artist David Wojnarowicz, depicted ants crawling on a crucifix. When the Catholic League's objections threatened to jeopardize the Smithsonian's funding, the museum's secretary, Wayne Clough, yanked the video from the exhibit.

According to a story published on, many art critics and curators who debated the issue felt that "a few conservatives had seized on a religious symbol to generate objections that could disrupt the show because of its gay themes."

Kaywin Feldman, president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, stated that the museum had been used for someone else's agenda. "What happened wasn't about this exhibition. It was complete homophobia, and we have to stop putting up with that."

Blake Gopnik, Newsweek's art critic, went so far as to call the uproar a "gay bashing."

Read the full story here.

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