The Frick Pittsburgh Museum has apologized for postponing an Islamic Art exhibition as a response to the Israel-Hamas war.
While never made official, the decision to postpone was first reported by local newspapers in late October. Elizabeth Barker (director of the museum) later issued a clarification saying that the decision to postpone it to 2024 was made in light of the conflict between Israel and Hamas that broke out earlier last month. She said that she was afraid that the members of the local communities, primarily Jewish, might take offense to such an exhibition.
However, the decision was denounced by Jews and Muslims alike – not just in Pittsburgh, but across the country. Even the other parties involved in the exhibition were not completely satisfied with Barker’s rationale. Gregory Houston (head of the International Art and Artists, the non-profit organizing the exhibition) said there is nothing wrong with the exhibition.
As the backlash grew, Elizabeth Barker has now issued an extensive apology for the same. The statement released Thursday night said: “I’m writing to apologize. Our failure to communicate clearly and openly about the postponement of Treasured Ornament hurt people we deeply respect in the Muslim community, the Jewish community, the arts community, and beyond.” She further added: “There are no excuses for what I said, regardless of my intentions. My words gave the offensive and utterly wrong impression that I equated Islam with terrorism and that I saw Jews and Muslims—communities with millennia of peaceful interconnection—as fundamentally opposed.”
The exhibition, titled “Treasured Ornament: 10 Centuries of Islamic Art”, aimed to showcase Islamic art over the last 1000 years. It featured numerous glassware, metal and earthen sculptures, paintings, and much more. The show, which was earlier supposed to open in November, will now open in August 2024.