Earlier this afternoon, the Andy Warhol Foundation sent Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Wayne Clough a letter threatening to cut future Foundation funding for Smithsonian exhibits unless the Smithsonian reinstated David Wojnarowicz‘s A Fire in My Belly to the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek” exhibit.
The Warhol Foundation raised the stakes—and the Smithsonian called them on it.
“While we regret the Foundation’s action, the Smithsonian’s decision to remove the video was a difficult one and we stand by it. The 104 works of the Hide Seek exhibition will remain on view at the National Portrait Gallery.”
The statement comes courtesy of Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas, who spoke directly to Secretary Clough.
Turns out this is penny-ante poker for the Smithsonian. According to St. Thomas, the Warhol Foundation gave $100,000 for “Hide/Seek” and has, over the last 4 years, funded Smithsonian exhibits to the tune of $375,000. In fiscal year 2010 alone, the Smithsonian received $65 million from foundations for its exhibits and programs.
New to this story? Read about the background of the Smithsonian’s decision to remove the video here.