Comparative Hell: Arts of Asian Underworlds
Date of Action:
Region: North America
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Confronting Bodies: Asia Society and Museum
Description of Artwork: New York’s Asia Society and Museum created an online, virtual version of its exhibition Comparative Hell: Arts of Asian Underworlds. Several of the images included depictions of Muhammad.
The Incident: The Asia Society and Museum online gallery blurred out two artworks featuring depictions of Muhammad.
Results of Incident: The museum attracted public controversy for its apparent election to censor the artworks portraying the prophet, including from the director of the collection whose works were on loan for the exhibition. The museum's leadership addressed the incident in remarks to the press and promptly corrected course. “The virtual tour was created by an outside contractor without sufficient oversight,” Asia Society interim vice president for global arts and culture Peggy Loar told the New York Times. “Our goal with this exhibition has always been to display these historic works fully while also including necessary context and information. The images should not have been blurred, and we take responsibility for this error, but this was not an active choice to censor and is being corrected.”