Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Museum's Nod to Anatomy and Art

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Museum's Nod to Anatomy and Art

Article excerpt

Having watched teachers bring kids to the Ringling Museum of Art, I know they work -- sometimes without much success -- at getting them not to giggle at all the depictions of exposed human anatomy.

We sophisticated adult male museum-goers have learned to be more discrete, in the hope that maintaining studious expressions will disguise the way we still spend most of our museum time gazing at images of nude and semi-nude women.

That's how our brains work. And at the Ringling, when a guy pulls his eyes from one lovingly, masterfully depicted, oh so delicately exposed female breast, he has a fair chance of encountering two more in the painting directly across the room.

So I chuckled when I got a complaint from a woman who asked that I not use her name because, since she has a connection to the museum, she does not want to be ostracized or picked on for making the gripe.

She is unhappy with the museum's new nod to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"Depicting Decolletage: The Pink Ribbon Tour," is really just a pamphlet that you can grab in the lobby, to assist a self-guided walk through the museum. But as the title may suggest to those who know a little French, the aim is to help art oglers cruise right past all the boring stuff and go directly to works that feature breasts.

Not that the pamphlet advertises "Totally Naked Nipples!" or seems at all trashy. But it is delightfully honest. As part of the effort to promote public support for breast cancer prevention and treatment, the idea is to tastefully acknowledge that breasts are beautiful and have been for a long, long time.

"Throughout history, artists have offered us many different depictions of breasts: nurturing breasts, seductive breasts, demure breasts and even breasts bared in rebellion," the pamphlet says. The tour will help you "discover the significance of the breast throughout the centuries."

Sounded good to me, and I enjoyed that tour, aside from the fact that I was on deadline and, alas, could rarely linger in front of my favorites.

But the critic I mentioned sees the tour in a different light.

"So, the museum is promoting a self-guided boobs tour (until some parent complains? …

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