About Hideseek.org

HIDESEEK.org was founded to provide a central, comprehensive source for information about the responses to and eventual censorship of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s groundbreaking exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.The site serves as an archive of the wide-ranging reactions to the controversial exhibition and the hundreds of protest actions that took place in late 2010 and early 2011 in the aftermath of its censorship. This resource is for everyone interested in the historical events that continue to transpire after the original October 2010 opening.

As the exhibition travels to the Brooklyn Museum and to the Tacoma Art Museum in 2012, HIDESEEK.org will continue to post information about exciting upcoming events and will expand its archive of written, video, and audio reactions to the exhibition and its ongoing controversy.

We are dedicated to chronicling responses from all viewpoints, and remain in full support of the exhibition’s intention to expand discussions of sexual difference in museums.

Censorship at the National Portrait Gallery

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture opened on October 30th, 2010 at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. as the first major American exhibition to highlight sexual difference in American portraiture. Although originally greeted with praise, one month after opening day the show came under attack. The Catholic League, a right-wing political group, Virginia Representative Eric Cantor, and now Speaker of the House John Boehner launched a targeted attack on a video work by David Wojnarowicz entitled “A Fire in My Belly” — a piece that included 13 seconds of ants crawling on a crucifix. House Speaker Boehner and Representative Cantor threatened the Smithsonian Institution with cuts to their budget for displaying a work they deemed blasphemous and on November 30th, 2010, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough removed the video from the gallery.

In response to this act of censorship, hundreds of museums, galleries, and cultural institutions around the world organized protests, discussions, lectures, and screened Wojnarowicz’s film at events, in window displays, and in galleries.
Finally, in a grand statement of support, the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington stepped up to host the exhibition in its entirety. Opening November 18th in Brooklyn and in March of 2012 in Tacoma, Hide/Seek will continue to create waves and conversation and HIDESEEK.org will continue to document this pivotal moment in American history.