American Visionary Art Museum — known for its edgy art and elaborate sculptures — found an unexpected donation to its collection Sunday morning.
Baltimore police responded to a call Sunday about a potential bomb threat — a toilet decorated with anti-Donald Trump sentiments found at a back entrance of the museum. Police said officers were dispatched around 7:30 a.m. but determined that the toilet was not a threat.
The toilet featured an open-mouthed depiction of president-elect Trump at the bottom of the bowl along with numerous expletives, anti-Trump language, and phrases the president-elect has said, according to the museum's founder and executive director, Rebecca Hoffberger. The artist is still unidentified, she said.
This isn't the first time someone has anonymously donated art to the museum — let alone a commode. AVAM, which opened 21 years ago, has received two other decorated toilets in the past from Duane Gerald "Shorty" Davis Sr., but neither had an angry message, Hoffberger said.
Davis, 57, told The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday afternoon that he did not have any direct connection to the "Dump on Trump" toilet, but said, "I've been encouraging people to do this. It's an artistic form of political protest."
In 2011, Davis was charged and found not guilty of leaving a "fake destructive device" — a toilet decorated with newspaper clippings, an electronic transmitter and a cellphone — outside the Baltimore County Courthouse. "It's a statement," he told The Sun later that year.
Hoffberger said the "Dump on Trump" toilet will not be displayed in the museum.
"We're really trying to blow on the embers of light instead of heat at this time," Hoffberger said, noting that the museum draws many families with children.
"We totally believe in individual freedom of expression, but we're also very concerned about anything that could be directed ... on just anger and hate. Because in the long run, I don't think that solves anything."
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Hoffberger said the museum has not disposed of the toilet and plans to see whether any artists come forward to claim the piece. But "we're not going to hold on to it for years because we don't have the room," she said.