A group of women wearing kimonos are demanding that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts return to its original concept of Kimono Wednesdays and allow museum visitors to try on the traditional garment, reports the Boston Globe.
Kimono Wednesdays started as a promotional event to generate excitement around Claude Monet’s painting “La Japonaise.” Museum-goers were allowed to try on a kimono in front of the painting and pose for pictures. The 1876 painting depicts the wife of the renown impressionist in a kimono and is meant to poke fun of Paris’ fascination at the time with Japanese.
That sparked a protest from Asian Americans who saw the event as another example of cultural appropriation and exotification of Asian culture. The museum then changed the promotion, instead of allowing people to wear the kimonos, they could feel and touch them, and attend educational talks.
That hasn’t ended the debate, with the original protests continuing saying they wanted more context around the views of Asians as “the other” added to the talks. This past Wednesday they were joined about half as many counter-protestors including some Japanese women. One sign read “I welcome museum exhibits that share Japanese culture with the community.”
You can read about a small confrontation between the two sides and reaction to the continuing debate in the Boston Globe.
What do you think? Which side of the controversy do you support?