The Natural History Museum in Vienna has lashed out against Facebook after the world’s largest social media censored as “dangerously pornographic" an image of the some 30,000-year-old “Venus of Willendorf", the most famous prehistoric female figurine in the world.
The Venus of Willendorf was discovered during archaeological excavations in 1908 at a Paleolithic site near Willendorf, Lower Austria.
The naked female figurine, which is 11.1 centimeters tall (4.4 inches) is estimated to have been made between 28,000 BC and 25,000 BC.
It is part of the collection of Natural History Museum in Vienna (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien), and its most popular item, and likely the most famous prehistoric female figurine in the world.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Director-General of the Vienna Natural History Museum Christian Koeberl slammed Facebook for censoring a “pornographic” photo of the Venus of Willendorf, AFP reports.
The “icon" of the Museum is “the most popular and best-known prehistoric representation of a woman worldwide,” Koeberl has said with respect to the figurine from the European Upper Paleolithic, i.e. Old Stone Age.
The controversy over Facebook’s censoring of the Willendorf Venus as “pornographic” began in December 2017 when Italian arts activist Laura Ghianda posted a picture of the prehistoric art masterpiece on the social network which went viral.
“This statue is not ‘dangerously pornographic’. The war on human culture and modern intellectualism will not be tolerated,” Ghianda said back then, after the image was censored as pornography content.
Photo: Natural History Museum Vienna
“We think that an archeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of ‘nudity’, as no artwork should be," says the Natural History Museum in Vienna in its statement.
“Let the Venus be naked! Since 29,500 years she shows herself as prehistoric fertility symbol without any clothes. Now Facebook censors it and upsets the community,” it adds.
“There is no reason for the Natural History Museum Vienna to cover the ‘Venus of Willendorf’, and hide her nudity, neither in the museum nor on social media,” Museum head Koeberl insisted.
“There has never been a complaint by visitors concerning the nakedness of the figurine,” he added.
The Museum adds, though, that it has never directly experienced censorship by Facebook, despite its recent post on “Stone Age pornography”.
Facebook is regularly criticized over content which it bans or indeed content it allows to be published, AFP adds, reminding that on March 15, a French court is set to rule on Facebook’s decision to shut down the account of a person who posted a photo of 19th century French painter Gustave Courbet’s “Origin of the World” painting, which depicts female genitalia.