The National Archives on Saturday apologized for blurring out signs in a photograph of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., showcased at the museum — saying it would review policies and replace the image.
“We made a mistake,” it said in a statement.
The photograph in question — on display as part of an exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage — shows the 2017 march down Pennsylvania Avenue the day after President Trump was elected. The image, taken by Getty Images photographer Mario Tama, shows the street crammed with marchers, many showing anti-Trump signs.
But The Washington Post first reported that many of those placards had been blurred out. Placards that read “God Hates Trump” had “Trump” blurred. Other signs that refer to women’s anatomy were altered, according to The Post. One that said “If my vagina could shoot bullets, it’d be less REGULATED” had “vagina” blurred out, while one that says “This P—y Grabs Back” had the obscenity blurred out.
In its statement, the National Archives said that it was not an archival record, but one licensed to use as a promotional graphic: “Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image.”
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 21: Protesters walk during the Women’s March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Large crowds are attending the anti-Trump rally a day after U.S. President Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
“We have removed the current display and will replace it as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image,” the statement said. “We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.”
In a previous statement to The Post, it had said that archivist David Ferriero — appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009 — supported the decision.
“As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the president’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman told The Post.
But the decision quickly came under heavy criticism.
Rice University historian Douglas Brinkey told The Post there was no reason to alter a historic photograph.”
“There’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph,” Brinkley said. “If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible.”
The apology came as new Women’s Marches were scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., New York and in other cities across the country.