Milwaukee Art Museum – Pope Benedict XVI Condom Portrait Draws Complaints

Milwaukee Art Museum prominently displayed a controversial portrait of Pope Benedict XVI fashioned from 17,000 colored condoms. Many suggest that if a piece were as offensive to other faith traditions or communities it would not be tolerated, much less embraced. The name of the Portrait is “Eggs Benedict,” created by Niki Johnson, was purchased by a local gay rights advocate for $25,000 and donated to the museum, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

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Complains About the Portrait:

The museum said that about 200 callers have complained about the portrait. Museum officials said an equal number of people have voiced support for the piece and that memberships and pledges in general are growing.

Portrait of Former Pope out of Condoms:

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki says the museum’s decision to display the piece is insulting and callous. Some patrons have dropped their membership, and at least one donor has ended financial support of the museum.

“What I want to do is really destigmatize the condom, normalize it,” Ms. Johnson said. “I’ve watched kids and parents talk about condoms. It opens a door to talking about what those things are and what they do.”

“Our hope is that the piece will bring not only controversy, but room for conversation about the underlying discussion the artist intended as well as regarding the role of art in public discussion,” Dan Keegan, the museum’s director, said in a statement.

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