D H
Jun 26 · Last update 3 mo. ago.

Was Sweden's Nationalmuseum right to add warnings to classic art works?

Nationalmuseum is Sweden's museum of art and design, housing collections of painting, sculpture, drawings and prints from the early Middle Ages up until present day. The Nationalmuseum is government sponsored and is mandated with preserving cultural heritage and promoting art and interest in art. But it is along these lines that some of the museum's visitors have recently taken to social media to denounce the addition of warnings of nationalism, racism and sexism implicit in some of their pieces of classic art. These politicised labels describe the racist and sexist connotations of the classical works through a distinctly modern lens. Is this an example of “woke” soft-censorship, or just the result of changing cultural standards in Sweden? Was Sweden's Nationalmuseum right to add warnings to classic art works?
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Misuse of racism or sexism
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Possible fake news
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No
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Yes
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Misuse of racism or sexism

Oversensitivity is often used to try and undermine arguments about racism or sexism, but on the other hand there have also been clear examples of accusations of sexism and racism being used inaccurately and this has often been the case in and around museums. There are many examples of claimed sexism or racism that when read into the issues do not make sense and ultimately do not amount to anything. For example a Daily Mail article that cites a study of natural history museums internationally, the study was framed as an accusation of sexism against the museums, but actually just outlined a bias toward larger male specimens that potentially hurts the science and study of animals. Such claims undermine the real issues of sexism and racism, or indeed nationalism, and instead muddy the waters on such issues and aid bad actors in undermining actual constructive arguments against racism or sexism.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7602745/Natural-History-Museum-branded-sexist-not-having-female-animal-exhibits.html collegian.com/2017/03/hodge-oversensitivity-is-a-real-issue-but-not-when-it-comes-to-race

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D H
Jun 29
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Possible fake news

This is a non-story, literally the same Russian disinformation fluff piece copy and pasted all over the Internet. Just googling this story you cannot find anything beyond Russia Today, Sputnik News, and a series of re-uploads and retweets by far-right activists and conspiracy theory pushers, the story goes no further than this. There are few actual quotes from the Nationalmuseum used in these two articles and the quotes used do not arguably frame any classic artworks as dangerous nationalism, racism or sexism, and are actually much more nuanced. One of the tweets commonly quoted in the two actual news articles is from an account that has claimed the COVID vaccines have killed two out of three people that have received a shot without providing evidence, ridiculous misinformation. These accounts also retweeted fringe scare stories about the Swedish government importing terrorists, and anti-vaccination disinformation.

twitter.com/Stefan_Forsman/status/1406322351424393217 twitter.com/Stefan_Forsman/status/1409567172771385355 twitter.com/mikelevandi sputniknews.com/society/202106211083196798-uproar-as-swedish-national-museum-adds-insane-racism-warnings-to-classic-art rt.com/news/527186-sweden-racist-warnings-art

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D H
Jun 29
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No

Sweden's Nationalmuseum is just moving with the times by discussing themes in art in a modern context within the placards explaining their collection of classic artworks, the museum are simultaneously trying to combat the propagandistic use of classic art by far-right extremists. Sweden's far-right extremists are becoming more of an issue in the country and European far-right terror groups are posing and real and dangerous issue on the continent. The museum and the art contained within do not exist in a bubble and the owners of the art works, the museum and ultimately the Swedish government, cannot ignore their use by extremists as propaganda tools.

This story only became a social media talking point following an op-ed written by archaeologist Leif Gren in the Vestmanlands Lans Tidning, in which Gren accused the museum of not letting their visitors “think for themselves” [1]. However clearly from the quotes used in these articles even, the descriptions used by Nationalmuseum are actually encouraging people to think, not stopping or persuading people not to do so, but prompting them to think more deeply about the role of themes touched on in in the works in modern society. As Twitter user “@RikardLjungberg” put it in a reply to one of the claims that made it into the articles: "If someone breaks down the texts schematically, there is nothing, as far as I can see, anything other than an ambition to put art in the context that existed when they were created. There are no values in the texts, possibly beyond word choice. We are not stupid and buy everything that is written. Think for yourself :)" [2].

[1] vlt.se/artikel/politisering-och-pekpinnar-pa-nationalmuseum-nar-ska-publiken-fa-tanka-sjalva hopenothate.org.uk/2021/02/16/report-launch-state-of-hate-far-right-extremism-in-europe-2021 opendemocracy.net/en/countering-radical-right/the-global-radical-right-is-exploiting-a-swedish-teens-murder bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30528918 [2] twitter.com/callenet/status/1406641111016353792

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Jun 29
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DH edited this paragraph
Sweden's Nationalmuseum is just moving with the times by discussing themes in art in a modern context within the placards explaining their collection of classic artworks, the museum are simultaneously trying to combat the propagandistic use of classic art by far-right extremists. Sweden's far-right extremists are becoming more of an issue in the country and European far-right terror groups are posing and real and dangerous issue on the continent. The museum and the art contained within do not exist in a bubble and the owners of the art works, the museum and ultimately the Swedish government, cannot ignore their use by extremists as propaganda tools.

Yes

Sweden's Nationalmuseum are wrong to stick ideological statements to classic Swedish artworks at the taxpayers expense. For example Gustaf Cederström’s famous “Bringing Home the Body of King Carl XII of Sweden” was tagged with the following: “The populist and nationalist view of Swedishness, which is used politically today, is based on the idea of a statically idealised and constructed past. The idea that there is a historical time and place to look back on, where everything was in a certain way, is not true” [1]. This statement undermines the clear patriotic intent of the piece and draws false parallels between 19th century politics and that of the present day. Likewise sexist agendas are read into 19th century erotic pieces, using warnings of "the tradition of the male gaze" and analysing a female figure as "prey"; a modern, biased, and politically blinkered way to try and force attendees into viewing Sweden's artistic culture.

theliberal.ie/woke-insanity-reaches-new-heights-as-swedish-national-museum-puts-warnings-of-racism-and-sexism-on-classic-works-of-art [1] sputniknews.com/society/202106211083196798-uproar-as-swedish-national-museum-adds-insane-racism-warnings-to-classic-art twitter.com/RikardLjungberg/status/1406329518097371136

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Jun 26
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