The Metropolitan Museum of Art quietly pulled images of the Prophet Mohammed from its Islamic collection and may not include them in a renovated exhibition area slated to open in 2011, The Post has learned.It's self-censorship to avoid offending people who would likely never step into museums in the first place. The Taliban and other Islamofascists who have destroyed priceless artifacts like the Bamiyan Buddhas aren't going to tolerate any images, let alone those of Mohammad. They are iconoclasts who refuse to accept any graven image of a person, let alone those of Mohammad.
The museum said the controversial images -- objected to by conservative Muslims who say their religion forbids images of their holy founder -- were "under review."
Critics say the Met has a history of dodging criticism and likely wants to escape the kind of outcry that Danish cartoons of Mohammed caused in 2006.
"This is typical of the Met -- trying to avoid any controversy," said a source with inside knowledge of the museum.
The Met currently has about 60 items from its 60,000-piece Islamic collection on temporary display in a corner of its vast second-floor Great Hall while larger galleries are renovated. But its three ancient renderings of Mohammed are not among them.
"We have a very small space at the moment in which to display the whole sweep of Islamic art," said spokeswoman Egle Zygas. "They didn't fit the theme of the current installation."
But it's not certain Mohammed will go on display when the Met finishes its $50 million renovation in 2011.
Three years ago, the Met changed its "Primitive Art Galleries" to the "Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas" for the sake of political correctness, said author Michael Gross, author of "Rogues' Gallery," a book about the Met.
The Met is caving in to perceived pressure even before anyone has a chance to see what the hullabaloo is all about. The museum has even altered the name of the exhibit space to drop reference to Islam, even though that is the central theme of the exhibit. It's political correctness and it detracts from the artistic value of the pieces that were hoped to be put on display.
Indeed, the reason that these works of art were on display in one of the most prestigious museums in the world is because of their artistic value and importance. These works showcase how artists of the day portrayed key figures in history, religion, culture, and society. That these works are hundreds of years old shows that the criticism is missplaced; the prohibition on showing Mohammad wasn't followed even hundreds of years ago the works should be shown.
These works were on display and never generated any criticism before, and there's no reason to stop their display now.