The Museum of Prohibited Art Says Damn You, Censorship

Discovering hidden masterpieces at a new Barcelona museum

Nichola Scurry
2 min readNov 1, 2023

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Art gallery wall covered with pictures with the word “censored” written across them.
Image created by author with Bing Image Creator

In October this year, the Museu de l’Art Prohibit (Museum of Prohibited Art) opened in Barcelona. It’s the world’s first museum dedicated to art that’s been “censored, prohibited or denounced due to political, social or religious reasons”.

As someone who’s both deeply concerned about censorship and loves art, I booked a ticket to the museum as soon as I heard about it.

I wasn’t disappointed and if you’re in Barcelona, I recommend you check out this brilliant museum. It’s in a Modernista building, the Garriga Nogués house, which is itself a work of art. Best of all, it’s a fairly small museum so you definitely won’t get bored or overwhelmed.

The museum exhibits works by Abel Azcona, Ai Weiwei, Andy Warhol, Banksy, David Wojnarowicz, Ines Doujak, Pablo Picasso, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tania Bruguera and more. I loved all the exhibits — pieces of art that have provoked protests (aka moaning), been defaced and, ultimately, censored. Just because someone got offended.

Bloody hell, if you don’t like the art or its subject matter, don’t look at it. But you have no right to stop others from looking at it.

I’d love to share photos of the exhibits with you because they were super clever and cool, but copyright and all. Instead, I’ll describe some of the memorable art.

  • Model of Francisco Franco inside a Coca-Cola vending machine.
  • Model of Saddam Hussein in his underwear submerged in a tank.
  • Drawings by Guantánamo Bay prisoners.
  • Piss Christ — a photo of a crucifix submerged in a tank of the artist’s wee. (If you’re American, wee is pee.)
  • Silence Rouge et Bleu — sparkling silver stilettos placed on top of 30 prayer mats.
  • Make America Great Again — depiction of a naked Trump with a tiny you-know-what.
  • Con Flores a María — the Virgin Mary with her hand between her legs.
  • Freedom Fries: Still Life — video loop of a naked, obese person lying on a table in a McDonald’s restaurant.

There’s heaps more, too. The only thing I felt was lacking was art that had been censored by the left. 99% of the exhibits were censored by conservative organisations but we all know the left does plenty of their own censoring. That would have been interesting to see.

Art is meant to provoke and get you scratching your noggin. If all art was non-confrontational, it’d be super boring. Like comedians who don’t make risqué jokes.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Noam Chomsky

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Nichola Scurry

Australian human living in Barcelona, writing mostly about popular culture with a twist of quirky. If you like my writing, I like coffee. ko-fi.com/nicscurry