University at Buffalo
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Visual Studies

Panel Discussion: Museums and Censorship, with Jonathan Katz, Richard Kurin, and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

September 16, 2011  by: Admin

September 25 at 2 PM – Albright-Knox Art Gallery Auditorium

The Albright Knox Art Gallery, in partnership with the Department of Art 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 National Portrait Gallery was made in response to requests from religious groups and their congressional representatives. 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.

Kurin, Katz, and Sullivan will address, from their different perspectives, the controversy that emerged following the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s decision to remove the Wojnarowicz work. The panel members will discuss, from their individual perspectives, the role of exhibitions in American museums today—and the challenges that currently accompany exhibitions that are regarded as controversial.

Richard Kurin is Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution. In this role, he oversees the Anacostia Community Museum; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (New York); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; National Museum of African American History and Culture; National Museum of African Art; National Museum of American History; National Museum of the American Indian and its George Gustav Heye Center (New York); National Portrait Gallery; National Postal Museum; and Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery.  He also is responsible for the administration of the Smithsonian Latino Center, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Photography Initiative and Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

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.

UB DEPARTMENT OF ART
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