If you’re an art museum in possession of works by sculpture greats Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, you probably wouldn’t want a 26-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe standing in your face.

The hoo-ha

Louis Grachos, who directs the Palms Springs Art Museum, objects to the statue; although, surprisingly, not because of any superiority of Moore and Hepworth's work. He doesn’t even argue that popular culture has its place but not in an art museum. Instead, he contends that the Marilyn statue, which shows her attempting to push down her windswept skirt, objectifies women.

Playing peekaboo

The lift of Marilyn’s skirt was memorialized in the 1955 flick “The Seven Year Itch” and, as reported by The Guardian in 2014 on the movie’s 60th anniversary, her husband back then, Joe DiMaggio, stormed off the set in anger when he witnessed the scene being filmed.

Marilyn divorced him after that.

Stuck with it

Of course, museum director Grachos can’t storm off and, according to the Desert Sun, is left to worry about what exhibit goers will see when they exit the museum - Marilyn’s exposed backside in her underwear. He worries in particular about the 100,000 school-age children who visit the exhibit hall each year and asks what kind of message does a “sexually-charged and disrespectful” statue send?

No-fault display

Palm Springs residents ask the same question. Steven Maloney, Board of Directors Chairman for the museum, frets that fronting the building with the Marilyn colossus will give the impression that the treasure house approved of the installation.

Keeping it short

The approval for the placement came from the city council, but given the balks, the display will be limited to three years.

Even so, the balks continue. A letter of complaint was sent to the Desert Sun and was signed by two dozen notables in Palm Springs. Besides objections to the sexist depiction, they say the towering height of the statue interferes with the natural landscape.

The art question

As for the art quality of the statue, the museum’s former director, Janice Lyle, told the Desert Sun "It is kitsch.

It does not represent an aesthetic conversation in the year 2020."

Yo, Adrian

If this story sounds familiar, you probably remember the brouhaha when the 8-foot-6, 2,000-pound bronze statue of Rocky Balboa was installed on the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006. It was also called kitsch.

Or to put it mildly, Rocky fronting a museum where Rembrandt and Renoir are is, in the words of University of the Arts president Miguel Angel Corzo, “inappropriate.”

Out of place

Like the Marilyn statue, the Rocky statue commemorates an iconic scene, this one from the 1976 movie “Rocky.” Reportedly, the statue is a huge tourist attraction, although few are said to enter the museum, Moe Brooker, professor at Moore College of Art and Design, knows why.

She said the Rocky statue is not art and doesn’t belong in a museum.

Of course, one might say the same thing about an “art” object in the Philadelphia Museum collection – the porcelain urinal by avant-gardist Marcel Duchamp.

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