New York AIDS Exhibit is ‘Altered’ by Museum Officials to Remove ‘Graphic’ Materials
The curators of a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York documenting a "gay group's 20-year struggle against AIDS" Thursday said they were "upset that museum officials softened the sexual content of some of their work and that the alterations changed the tone of their story," the New York Times reports. Jane Rosett, co-curator of the Gay Men's Health Crisis exhibit, called "AIDS: A Living Archive," said that the exhibit opened on April 21 without "a number of sexually graphic materials that some consider historically important." Dr. Lawrence Mass, one of the founding members of the group, said that photos in the exhibit were "cropped to exclude images of intimacy between men" and that museum officials would not allow representations of condoms or male genitalia in the museum. Curators said they found the exhibit alterations "surprising" because they were not informed of "museum guidelines" when they were setting up the exhibit. But Marty Algaze, a spokesperson for GMHC, said that the group is "very proud" of the exhibit and he "understood the compromises that were necessary to have a partnership with the museum." Algaze added, "I was told the museum gets a large number of children and some sexually explicit material would be inappropriate for them to see. If you're having a discussion about sexual issues with gay men, you might be more graphic. It would be different if you're talking to young people or to the public, or a group of politicians for that matter." But the curators said that any exhibit "dealing with AIDS and sexual issues" should be "as unfiltered as possible," noting that the history of AIDS would be incomplete if "references to sex were deleted." Rosett said, "AIDS is not pretty, AIDS is not Disney. We didn't submit anything for shock value for its own sake. We edited and culled from hundreds of images. We submitted what we considered to be the most crucial documents of the movement's history." The exhibit is on display at the museum through Sept. 10 (Saulny, New York Times, 4/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.