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P*rnhub Creates Museum Guide

For mature audiences

CW: This article includes discussion about nudity, pornography, sex, physical assault, sex trafficking, rape, and coercion.

Two weeks ago, Pornhub created a museum guide to classical nudes. Famous museums, including the Louvre, the Prado, and the Met have been included in Pornhub’s efforts to blur the lines between art and porn. The internet site’s goal is two-fold: to attract visitors to museums after the pandemic and mandatory shutdowns; and to get more people (who may not ordinarily) to look at art. As with all art, it comes down to interpretation, which can vary from person to person. The guide is composed of photographs of the artworks, as well as photographed recreations.

I mean, sex sells, right? It’s still such a taboo topic of conversation that just mentioning it attracts attention. The guide, “Show Me the Nudes”, has created a lot of controversy within the museum community. As of last week, The Louvre and the Uffizi have both told Pornhub to remove their works (reproduced without permission) from the guide. However, that’s not the only problem Gallery Talk has with it.[1]

Ethical Association

Pornhub doesn’t exactly have a spotless reputation. There are reports of s*x tr*fficking, r*ape, and physical ass*ult videos of adults and minors, and hacked personal nude photographs being uploaded onto the site.[2] This includes, additionally, fraud and coercion.[3] While the company is working on cleaning up, the content can still be viewed online.[4] The functionality and slow response to dealing with the content brings into question the ethics of a company, and thus, any other company/ organization/ institution that is associated with it.

It makes sense why museums wouldn’t want to either.

Taking the Mmkay with the Bad

We can give some credit where credit is due. Pornhub balances Eurocentricity with art from “Another Perspective”, a subsection of the guide, which “draws on a number of international collections to showcase artworks from India, Japan, China, and the Americas depicting non-white bodies.”[5] Is this good? … maybe? To us, it still seems like it would still fetishize nonwhite bodies, which is why mmkay is the best we can do; it’s not good, but it’s still more than some museums have done, let’s be honest. According to, it isn’t all nude women, there are recreations of artwork that involve nude men, as well.[6] But, if we have learned nothing else form the Guerilla Girls, there are more nude women on display in museums than there are works by women in museum collections.

All-in-all, I think the idea is interesting, but Pornhub didn’t go through the right channels. Although, I don’t think Pornhub should be the organization to do this at all. They’re a sketchy company! They’re unethical and now that museums are hearing about works in their collections being included in the guide, they want out. But again, the idea is interesting. To blur the lines between porn and art brings art into the familiar, in a way. Museum folk and academics like to keep it lofty, like it’s above human nature to see a body and think of it in any other way than as a sexual object. By calling it porn, there could be a way to reframe the depictions of bodies in gallery spaces, to question why women are depicted more than men in the nude. Why there aren’t many depictions of members of the LGBTQ+ community that are considered art without being considered “homoerotic”. Porn is inherently erotic, that’s its purpose, but to call porn art reframes it, especially within a museum or gallery context.

That would certainly be an exhibition you wouldn’t forget, isn’t it?

But what do you think? Could there be a positive side to this working for museums? Or do the negatives outweigh them? Let us know your thoughts below or send us a message. We want to know!

Sarah Hixson (she/her/hers) is the Museum Fellow at Bucknell University and an emerging curator and educator. Do you have a question for her? Send us an email at and she'll get back to you ASAP.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

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