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A nude causes a fuss on Facebook (again) – but clothes are making mischief at the Met

2 March 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Once again, Facebook’s moral filters have surpassed themselves. According to the Art Newspaper, last year the social media platform censored an image of the 30,000-year-old nude statue known as the Venus of Willendorf, which was uploaded to the site by art lover Laura Ghianda. Housed in the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, the object is probably one of the most famous depictions of the human form ever created – but that didn’t stop Facebook deeming it ‘inappropriate content’, possibly equating the figure’s nudity with pornography.

At the Metropolitan Museum in New York, however, it is clothes, rather than nudity, that have been causing a stir of late. Indeed, as 26-year-old New Jersey resident Eliza Vincz discovered last weekend, one should think twice before dressing up for a visit to the institution. Vincz, who describes herself as an ‘historical seamstress specializing in late 18th and early 19th century big fashion’, had volunteered to take part in a tour of the institution’s costume department, wearing a blue silk taffeta dress she had made based on period clothing.

But within moments, as she writes on her ‘Silk and Sass’ blog, Vincz was ‘accosted’ by a security guard, who told her that her costume ‘would distract [other visitors] from the museum’, and asked to leave the premises. Vincz claims that the zealous Met employee implied that she had stolen the costume, saying that she was ‘treated like a criminal’. To add insult to injury, she says, she was stopped by the same guard on her way out, who once again told her to leave. ‘I have never been so embarrassed in my life,’ Vincz states. Talk about a costume drama…

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