Marilyn ‘deserves a much better home’

I am a Palm Springs resident and docent at the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM). Let me start out by saying that I am actually a fan of the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue and am eager to have her return to Palm Springs. However, I am not a fan of the location that Mayor Kors and Palm Springs City Council have approved of – directly in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum. This is a ridiculous plan at best.

Marilyn Statue Placement Misses Mark [Opinion]

This shows E Stewart Williams’ vision for the Museum in his design. Marilyn will now moon that vision.

There are so many reasons why this decision is utterly and completely wrong. Marilyn in front of the Museum will negatively affect the Museum and the public in a number of ways:

  1. It goes against everything that E Stewart Williams envisioned for PSAM when he designed the building back in 1972. His original design called for a large open space in front of the Museum with Henry Moore and other sophisticated fine art sculptures arranged around a small pool in a park-like setting. Placing Marilyn in the middle of Williams’ vision is an insult to E Stewart Williams, PSAM’s architecture, PSAM’s Mission, and the Mid-Century Modern pride that this city so uniquely possesses and celebrates with Modernism Week annually. The pending arrival of Albert Frey’s Aluminaire House, soon to be placed on the Museum’s south parking lot, only serves to amplify this egregious insult.
  2. Over 100,000 Coachella Valley grade-school students visit PSAM every year, some as young as 6 years old in 1st grade. When these young students leave the Museum after touring and attending art classes within, do you really want them staring at the backside of Marilyn’s underwear exposed by her elevated dress? What kind of message does that send to young girls? You too can be sexual? What kind of message does that send to young boys? It is OK to sexualize and objectify girls?
  3. In the current MeToo and Women’s Rights Movements, this placement is simply inappropriate in front of a cultural institution which is making concerted efforts to be ALL inclusive and celebrate women in the arts for their intellect and talent, not deride them as fetishized and sexual objects.
  4. Although the Museum protests Marilyn being placed out in front, her placement there will lead visitors to believe that the Museum participates in, and condones it, which it emphatically does not. This kitschy Marilyn has nothing to do with fine art; it never has, and never will.
  5. With all the compromises that had to be painfully made for the stained Downtown Project, one of the few public wins was a clear view of the Museum from Palm Canyon Drive, albeit a narrowed one. If Marilyn is placed dead center in front of the Museum on Museum Way, the view from Palm Canyon will appear as if Marilyn is bending forward with her skirt blown up blowing hot air out of her rear-end toward the front of the museum. Is this the way we want to treat one of the most beloved cultural institutions in our city, one that is currently struggling in the wake of COVID? What kind of message does that send to everyone?? Should we be trying to make a mockery of Palm Springs Art Museum??

In light of all of the above, I implore Mayor Kors and Palm Springs City Council to reconsider Marilyn’s placement in front of our beloved Museum. PLEASE, find a more appropriate location for her. Although controversial, she is liked by many, including myself. She deserves a better home.

Please have some integrity and make the right decision.

Image Sources

  • Marilyn Monroe: Shutterstock