Body mod mural?
September 4, 2017 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Can you tell me what major American museum has, or had, a mural depicting various ethnic groups showing traditional body modifications? This is a disturbing memory of mine.

I saw this on some trip to a large museum when I was a kid. It seemed to have been painted in the '60s or so, and it depicted a gathering of people who would never, ever meet, displaying their traditional body mods: a Chinese woman with bound feet, an Aztec with a shaped head, etc. It creeped me out and introduced me to a number of new and painful ideas.

Where was this? Is it still there? They all looked proud to be there, but it was such an awful, ethnocentric idea that I should hope it has been replaced.
posted by Countess Elena to Society & Culture (4 answers total)
Best answer: "Contemporary Cultural Mutilations in Pursuit of Beauty," by Alton Tobey, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:06 PM on September 4, 2017

Best answer: I think you may be thinking of a mural in the old Physical Anthropology exhibit hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. That hall was open from 1966 to 1991 I believe? Here's a book with a description, and the cover of the book has a photo of it.

And, on preview, Iris Gambol has given you the title and artist. It is not currently on display, as I said.
posted by gudrun at 8:11 PM on September 4, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you!
posted by Countess Elena at 8:15 PM on September 4, 2017

Indeed, thank you, I stumbled across this mural in a 1975 visit to the Smithsonian, and was never able to find it again.
posted by Rash at 9:16 PM on September 4, 2017

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