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Press Releases

Panel Discussion: Museums and Censorship – September 25 at 2 pm

September 19, 2011

Buffalo, NY The Albright Knox Art Gallery, in partnership with the Department of Visual Studies and the Humanities Institute at the University at Buffalo, will present a conversation on the controversy surrounding the recent Smithsonian exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture—the first major museum queer exhibition in US history—and the Smithsonian’s decision to remove David Wojnarowicz’s film Fire in My Belly from the exhibition. Joining the discussion will be Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution; Jonathan D. Katz, Director of the Doctoral Program in Visual Studies at the University at Buffalo and co-curator of the Hide/Seek exhibition; and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Professor of Law and Director of the Law, Religion, and Culture Program at the University at Buffalo.  The conversation will be moderated by Albright-Knox Art Gallery Curator Heather Pesanti.

The decision to remove Wojnarowicz’s work from the exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery was made in response to requests from religious groups and reactions from members of Congress. Reviewing this decision, the panelists will discuss the relationship between museums and government and their respective roles in censorship; they will also explore the relationship between curators and their institutions, as well as the museum’s role in deciding what should or should not be shown in an exhibition.

Richard Kurin is Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution. In this role, he oversees all Smithsonian art and history museums including the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American History,the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of African Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (opens in 2015), as well as a variety of cultural and educational programs..

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan is Professor of Law and Director of the Law, Religion, and Culture Program at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

Jonathan D. Katz is Director of the Doctoral Program in Visual Studies at the University at Buffalo, as well Honorary Research Faculty at the University of Manchester, UK, and President of the new Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City.

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