Museum Scrubs Plans for Graffiti Exhibition

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June 21, 2011; Source: New York Times | Here’s one thing New Yorkers can scratch off their “to do” list.  The Brooklyn Museum is canceling a planned exhibition of graffiti art, claiming it can’t afford it.  According to the New York Times, the show, which is currently at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, has drawn criticism “for prompting an increase in graffiti in the surrounding neighborhood.” 

Over the past month, as word spread that the exhibition was coming to New York, opposition also began appearing here and there.  Last April, the New York Daily News attacked plans for the show, worrying that it would likely cause problems for “every bodega owner and restaurant manager who struggles to keep his or her property graffiti-free.” 

New York City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. added his voice to the criticism. In a letter to Arnold L. Lehman, the director of the Brooklyn Museum, Vallone urged him to cancel the show. He also noted that the museum receives about $9 million a year from the city and that “taxpayer money should NOT be used to encourage the destruction of our taxpayers’ property.”

The museum says its decision not to go forward with the graffiti exhibition was purely financial, and had nothing to do with the political pressure. In a statement, Lehman said, “The cancellation became necessary due to the current financial climate.”—Bruce S. Trachtenberg