V&A Defends Plan to Exhibit Kevin Spacey Portrait

The London museum has faced criticism for its decision following allegations of sexual misconduct against the American actor

Kevin Spacey, 2013. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Kevin Spacey, 2013. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has defended its plan to show a portrait of Kevin Spacey. The museum has been the subject of criticism over its decision, following allegations of sexual misconduct against the 59-year-old American actor.

Spacey’s portrait is to be exhibited as part of a show devoted to important figures in theatre and film. The works by the artist Francis Hamel, which depict visiting professors of the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s College, Oxford – Spacey held the position in 2008 – will go on show from 27 April to 19 May.

Speaking on the ITV programme Good Morning Britain, journalist Rebecca Reid criticized the museum’s plan: ‘there is a difference having art that was created in the context in which it existed […] and newly created art that reflects our current values.’

In a statement sent to frieze, the museum said: ‘The V&A aims to provide a record of history while recognising and encouraging debate around issues affecting contemporary society.’ A spokesperson for theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh said: ‘This display of portraits is an accurate historic record of every Professor who has occupied the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre over 27 years at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. At the time of his appointment and during his tenure in the Chair, there was no public controversy surrounding Mr Spacey.’

Spacey has faced several allegations of sexual assault. Earlier in the year he appeared in a US court and pleaded not guilty to groping an 18-year-old worker at a restaurant in Nantucket in 2016. He has also been accused of misconduct by more than a dozen men, though the Nantucket allegation is the first to turn into a criminal case.

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