April 8, 2011; Source: New York Times | Leading art museums around the world are banding together online to exhibit their support for detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Representatives of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Tate in London, and the American Association of Art Museum Directors all have signed a petition posted on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum website and Facebook page that calls on Chinese authorities to release Ai, who was detained last week in Beijing while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong.

A statement on the website reads: "By using Ai Weiwei’s favored medium of ’social sculpture,’ we hope to hasten the release of our visionary friend and artist.’’ According to the New York Times, Ai has clashed with the Chinese Communist government in the past, including when he used his work to "raise questions about" how officials dealt with the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands of school children.

The online petition to the Minister of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, Cai Wu, says the international arts community is disappointed "in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to ‘soft power’ and cultural influence.’’—Bruce Trachtenberg