Officials are condemning apparent hate vandalism that appeared Wednesday on a billboard advertising an ongoing Islamic art exhibition at the Philbrook Museum of Art.
The words “HOME GROWN TERROR!” were discovered spray painted below the billboard’s phrase of “1,200 years of Islamic Art” on Wednesday, and the museum posted a photo to Facebook along with a message from Director Scott Stulen.
“We could not be more proud to present this show and we will not be deterred by any form of intolerance in our community,” Stulen said in the post. “We believe strongly that museums are for everyone. We can’t just say that or have it in the mission statement on our website, we must show this commitment to inclusion through the exhibitions we present and the programs we create.”
Stulen also said he hoped the vandal or vandals will see the show, saying they’re “welcome anytime.”
Communications Manager Jeff Martin said in an ironic way, the vandals attracted more attention to the exhibition.
The billboard, located near Interstate 44 and U.S. 75, could be replaced or taken down as soon as Wednesday, Martin said.
A Geico advertisement on the billboard below the museum’s was also spray painted with the same phrase.
The art exhibition, “Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time & Place,” is on display at the museum until Oct. 6, and is the most extensive exhibition of Islamic art ever to be shown in Oklahoma, according to a news release from the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The exhibition features a collection of curated art from 1,200 years of Islamic history centered around themes of architecture, hospitality, clothing, writing and cross-cultural exchange, the release states.
CAIR Oklahoma Civil Rights Director Veronica Laizure said the organization hopes the perpetrator or perpetrator(s) are brought to justice, and “if appropriate, hate crime charges will be brought against the vandals who attempt to sow more division and hatred in our communities.”
“We are saddened and frustrated to see that Islamophobia has touched something as beautiful as Philbrook’s efforts to showcase the diversity, beauty and artistic creation of the Islamic world,” Laizure said in the release.
Admission to the museum is free this Saturday, Martin said, for the museum promotes free admission every second Saturday of each month, and admission is free year-round for those 17 and under.
For more information about the exhibit, visit philbrook.org/exhibitions/wondrous-worlds-art-islam-through-time-place/.