Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis.

El Museo del Barrio Revokes Plan to Honor Right-Wing German Princess

El Museo del Barrio, the New York–based museum dedicated to Latino and Latin American art and culture, announced yesterday that it would no longer be honoring Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis—the conservative Catholic German princess, art collector, and socialite known for her close ties to Stephen Bannon, leaders of far-right political parties in Germany and France, orthodox Roman Catholic officials, and Hillary Clinton—at their fiftieth-anniversary gala in May. Bannon recently mentioned his plan to open up his “Gladiator School,” a media and theological training ground he has envisioned for far-right Catholics who find the current Pope Francis too liberal, at Von Thurn und Taxis’s five-hundred-room castle in Regensburg, Germany. 

On Twitter, New York University professor Ana Dopico called Von Thurn und Taxis “a princess of Europe’s extreme right wing” and the museum’s decision to honor her “staggering and shocking,” especially for an institution that was started by Puerto Rican artists and activists in a public school classroom in 1969.

Alex Gonzalez, a former board member of the museum, told the New York Times that he hadn’t received an answer when he asked how Princess Gloria “aligns with the mission and purpose of a Latinx institution.”

“Her very public comments on the AIDS epidemic in Africa alone would have raised red flags,” he told Hyperallergic on Wednesday, referring to her 2001 comment that the African AIDS crisis was caused by the fact that “blacks like to copulate a lot.” “They were completely inhumane and voiced publicly on live television,” Gonzalez continued. “So the question that I ask of El Museo was: What are these alignments? Why are you honoring this person?”

After the New York Times asked the museum for comment, El Museo issued the following statement on Thursday morning: “As a cultural institution founded on the principles of inclusion, civil rights and diversity, El Museo del Barrio is committed to honoring individuals that uphold those values and support the elevation of Latino and Latin American art and culture both in the United States and beyond. As a result, El Museo del Barrio has decided to part ways with H.S.H. Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis.”

Von Thurn und Taxis, whose extensive art collection includes work by Thomas Ruff, Andy Warhol, Bill Viola, Anselm Kiefer, Paul McCarthy, and Jeff Koons, among others, responded: “I am disappointed to what degree the society is divided today and that there seems to be absolutely no room for tolerance whatsoever. My conservative religious views have absolutely no impact on my open mind on cultural diversity and inclusion.”

Yasmin Ramirez, a former curator at El Museo, told Hyperallergic: “The fact that the museum dropped Princess Gloria from the honorees list after hearing criticism is less a sign of its ‘sensitivity’ to our community than evidence that the museum’s leadership lacks integrity and insight into how to move the institution forward.”

Artist Liliana Porter, whose solo exhibition “Other Situations” is currently on view at El Museo, said: “I cannot even imagine that somebody at the museum had the bad idea of inviting this person. I am very surprised, and can only say that it is completely [inadmissible]. We are living in a very difficult time, with an extraordinary crisis of values, of [a] sense of solidarity, of humanity, becoming more and more reactionary and dangerously fascist. We cannot afford to make mistakes like this. I am glad the museum withdrew from its intentions, but we should take this as an alert; we are all responsible for our future.”