After MAN’s afternoon scoop (or see the post below this one) and just before 6pm, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough sent out this email to Smithsonian staff and to at least a few art museum directors. Note that it fails to express support for the exhibition.
Subject: Message From the Secretary
I am writing to address the coverage and comments in the news media and online surrounding NPG’s exhibition, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” which explores the role of gender identity in American portraiture. I toured it early on with curator David Ward and was impressed by the depth of the scholarship and thoughtfulness of the exhibition.
Most of the recent attention about the exhibition has focused on 11 seconds of a four-minute video clip, perceived by some to be anti-Christian and intentionally provocative. Neither description could be further from the truth. However, it was clear that this video was detracting from the entirety of the exhibition, so NPG removed the video.
That decision was not made lightly or in a vacuum. After consulting with NPG Director Marty Sullivan and others at the museum, and Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, I made the final decision to take down the video.
I understand this move is being criticized by some, and I accept that and understand their frustrations. Our mission is the increase and diffusion of knowledge, and sometimes that sparks controversy and prompts uncomfortable debate. This is clearly one of those times.
I am proud to be the Secretary of this Institution, and I am inspired by the work each of you contributes to our success.