Belfast Telegraph

How many complaints were made about Orange Order Ku Klux Klansmen painting?

By David Young

More than 4,000 people have visited the Ulster Museum since the furore erupted over a painting depicting Orangemen as hooded Ku Klux Klansmen - but only six people have complained, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

The news comes after the chief executive and staff from National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) met senior DUP figures at Stormont yesterday.

The controversial painting - Christian Flautists Outside St Patrick's, by Joseph McWilliams - forms part of a Royal Ulster Academy (RUA) exhibition being hosted in the Ulster Museum in south Belfast. Warning signs have now been erected at all three entrances to the exhibition.

It was the last painting Mr McWilliams completed before his death last month.

DUP Assembly member William Humphrey, who was at the meeting with NMNI, said afterwards that "from what was said it would appear that museum staff had not noticed this aspect of the painting until it was brought to their attention last week. While we did not reach a meeting of minds with the museum representatives, it was important that we set out clearly our strong concerns.

"This painting is on show in a general art display, not as part of a politically contentious exhibition.

"This cannot be viewed as an acceptable portrayal in a publicly-funded museum which prides itself on being a shared space."

A NMNI spokesperson said: "We have taken steps to acknowledge that some have found the painting offensive and, last week, we placed a sign at the entrances to the gallery."

To date six people have complained to NMNI about the exhibition, but the number of visitors has risen since the furore.

NMNI said more than 4,000 people visited the museum last Saturday and Sunday - a slightly higher figure than normal.

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