College museum shrouds art in protest of Trump travel ban
© The Davis Museum

A museum at Wellesley College is protesting President Trump’s controversial travel ban by temporarily removing and shrouding all of its artwork created by immigrants.

Beginning Thursday and lasting through Tuesday, the Davis Museum at Wellesley, located in Massachusetts, will conceal or take away roughly 120 works of art created by or given to its collection by immigrants to the United States, it announced Wednesday. The museum says the demonstration, which it has dubbed “Art-Less,” affects about 20 percent of its permanent collection's galleries.

“We realized that it would be extremely moving and sort of undeniable to honor those gifts through absence, to remove those works through the President’s Day holiday, and to sort of pay symbolic witness to what we would lose without immigrants and what we have gained,” museum director Lisa Fischman told ITK in an interview.

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Fischman says the message the institution aims to send to the president is: “Immigration is not a simple concern. The contribution of immigrants to the United States has been extraordinary, and that if we can create just a symbolic demonstration of that contribution here, what you must know is how exponentially that grows throughout the culture, throughout our history."

"We wouldn’t want to lose that," Fischman says. "We wouldn’t be who were are as a nation without our immigrants.”

The museum is highlighting the fact that a portrait of George Washington “will be bare, even as President’s Day takes place on Monday, Feb. 20.” Painted by Swedish-born artist Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1790s, the painting was donated to the museum by a family that came to the country from Sweden following World War II.

Trump signed an executive order last month temporarily barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., as well as a temporary halt to refugee resettlement. Earlier this week, a federal judge issued an injunction, indefinitely blocking the order.

The protest in response to Trump’s executive order isn’t just taking place in the art world. Restaurateurs and businesses around the U.S. are poised to participate in a “Day Without Immigrants” boycott on Thursday, which urges retailers to close their doors to show, as one organizer’s Facebook page states, “how essential our daily participation is to this wonderful country.”