Orange Order to meet Ulster Museum chiefs over ‘KKK’ painting

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Staff at the Ulster Museum have erected a sign to warn visitors that some images – including one linking Orange Order supporters with the racist Ku Klux Klan – are “potentially offensive”.

A row broke out when an exhibition was opened which included the ‘Christian Flautists Outside St Patrick’s’ work by the late Joseph McWilliams.

The painting – which the Orange Order has branded “deeply offensive” – depicts a loyalist band outside the Catholic church in Belfast’s Donegall Street with Orangemen dressed in Ku Klux Klan-style white pointed hoods.

The new sign at the museum also describes the exhibition as “thought-provoking” and potentially “controversial”.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Northern Ireland said the sign was placed at each of the entrances to the gallery on Wednesday.

“We will continue to welcome and listen to all feedback received regarding the exhibition,” she added.

The controversial corner of the painting depicting Orangemen as members of the Ku Klux Klan

The controversial corner of the painting depicting Orangemen as members of the Ku Klux Klan

Orange Order representatives hope to meet museum officials on Tuesday.

An Orange Order spokesman stressed they were not in favour of censorship, but said the disclaimer notice was “a necessary step” and at least some acknowledgement of the concerns of both the Order and many in the wider community.

He said: “The real issue is the display of such highly offensive and inaccurate material in a public shared space.

“If the Institution displayed such provocative and insulting depictions on our banners while on parade, we believe we would be open to prosecution.”

Commenting on the planned meeting with museum officials, the Order spokesman said: “The institution wishes to ascertain their justification for providing exhibition space for such highly offensive material.”