Fla. museum caught up in Confederate flag exhibit dispute

Sunday, March 18, 2007

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A museum is standing behind an exhibit by artist John Sims, including a Confederate flag hung from a noose on a 13-foot gallows in a display titled "The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag," despite the objections of a descendant of a soldier who fought for the South during the Civil War.

Robert Hurst, commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, asked the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science this past week to remove the display, along with 13 other pieces by Sims.

Hurst said Friday he has lost respect for the museum, calling the display of Sims' work "offensive, objectionable and tasteless."

"They're alienating a large portion of the population around here," Hurst said. "Maybe they just wanted to cause some controversy."

He called Sims an "irrelevant individual" with no artistic talent.

Sims responded that he's about as irrelevant as the Constitution.

The museum announced Friday it is standing by Sims' work, on display since Feb. 26, because it wants to inspire dialogue in the community about a symbol that engenders a diversity of strong responses.

"There's a balance between the nature of the art that we show and the outcome that we seek, which is to promote dialogue and conversation, and have you maybe think of something in a slightly different way," said Chucha Barber, the museum's executive director.

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