In the wake of the “Fire in the Belly” controversy, the Smithsonian’s governing board is calling for changes in how the institution deals with similar challenges in the future, writes the Associated Press.
The board on Monday stood behind Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough’s decision to pull video that briefly depicted ants crawling on a crucifix from a National Portrait Gallery show but said the institution should be better prepared to handle such disputes and guard curatorial freedom in the face of political pressure.
“There are a number of things that with 20/20 hindsight probably could have been done differently,” said John McCarter, a Smithsonian regent and member of a panel that the board assembled to review the video dispute.
The panel recommended that the Smithsonian seek advice from the public and engage Congress when planning potentially objectionable exhibits but said that once the shows are open, changes should not be made without consulting curators, museum chiefs, and the governing board.
In other arts news, one of Harlem’s key cultural institutions is facing foreclosure for the second time in a decade as a result of a properly deal gone bust, according to The New York Times.
The National Black Theater, founded in 1968 to showcase works by and about African Americans, owes nearly $1.8-million in property taxes on its building. The organization says it was defrauded by two businessmen it invited to invest in the property in it 2002, when it was threatened by a previous debt crisis.