Chinese museum removes pictures comparing black people to wild animals

"The curator explained that Chinese photographer Yu Huiping was simply trying to 'show the harmony between man and animal in Africa'."/VIA OKAYAFRICA

A museum in central China has removed some of the pictures in an exhibition after complaints that the display was racist.

The ‘This Is Africa’ exhibit at the state Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, included photographs of animals and people  framed next to each other displaying similar expressions.

One pair included a young boy and a howling chimpanzee, each photographed with their mouths both opened.

Curator Wang Yuejun told AFP: “To show our goodwill and sincerity, we have replaced the photos that our African friends find shocking.”

The curator explained that Chinese photographer Yu Huiping was simply trying to “show the harmony between man and animal in Africa”.

The photography exhibit is expected to end this week.

Chinese state media reported that so far, more than 170,000 people had visited the exhibit, which went up during last week’s national holiday.

A curator at the exhibition, Wang Yuejun, said the decision to hang the photos of people and animals together was his own idea, and not that of Yu.

“The target of the exhibition is mainly a Chinese audience” Wang said in a statement, adding that comparisons between people and animals are common in China and often a compliment.

The controversy began after one visitor, Edward Duke, posted on Instagram earlier this week a video he recorded while visiting the museum. The user claimed he is Nigerian.

Duke wrote: “The Hubei Provincial Museum put pictures of a particular race next to wild animals why?” Are they the only race to have impoverished looking?’

In the video it showed the gallery had photos of wild animals, framed alongside those of black-skinned people.

Many comments on the visitor’s post condemned the racist nature of the exhibition although the post has now been taken down from Instagram.

According to Shanghaiist, the museum’s director, Fang Qin, commented the ‘exhibit is a way of providing a wider range of knowledge to visitors, while enhancing the museum’s mission of social education and enriching the cultural life of the masses.’

Yu Huiping intended for the exhibition to highlight his travels in Africa and for visitors to learn about African culture.


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