Culture wars at the Smithsonian

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After harsh criticism from conservative groups and several Republican members of Congress, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has removed David Wojnarowicz’s video “A Fire in My Belly” from their exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” Martin Sullivan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, opted for self-censorship in an attempt to protect the GLBT-theFire in my bellymed exhibition but not before another debate over federal funding for the arts was ignited. Eric Cantor, future Majority Leader, has called for closure of “Hide/Seek” because it is “an outrageous use of taxpayer money.”  The spokesman for John Boehner, the future House Speaker, stated that “Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves [in].” Martin Sullivan has issued a statement on the exhibition and is soliciting public comments. If you want to  read more about the controversy, here are a few links to help you get started: TBDArts blog, npr, CultureGrrl blog, Washington Post, CNN.

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