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MOCA Adds Controversial Nude Photo To Permanent Collection

Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville

A photograph that bred controversy in Jacksonville is returning to the museum at the center of last year’s First Amendment battle.

Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art has acquired the image of a nude pregnant woman for its permanent collection. 

The image, called “Janine Eight Months Pregnant” was on display in the museum’s front atrium, where even casual visitors could see it. That was too visible for former Jacksonville City Council President Clay Yarborough — he asked for the museum’s city funding to be pulled over what he called porn.

When the museum refused to alter its exhibit, supporters rallied in the streets and using the social media hashtag #IStandWithMOCA, “which was deeply gratifying not just for MOCA, but as a show of support for arts and culture in our community," says Chief Curator Marcelle Polednik.

She says it’s customary for the museum to add pieces from its atrium shows to the permanent collection. But it was photographer Angela Strassheim’s idea to give MOCA the controversial nude.

“Angela felt very strongly that not only that image but that photograph itself as an object was deeply and integrally tied to not only the history of the museum but also the history of Jacksonville,” Polednik says.

The museum has also acquired another of Strassheim’s photos from the show, of a young boy touching his mother’s pregnant belly.

Visitors can see both photos — for free — at the museum’s #IStandWithMOCA Day on Saturday, Nov. 28. And this time, they’ll be up on the second floor. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP