May 19, 2022

Pittsburgh: Mt. Lebanon Library Says Partially Nude Woman in Photo Exhibit Breaks Rules

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

It was labeled “Innocence.”

But the photo of a woman with an exposed breast — from a historic painting hanging in the Mercer County Courthouse — might be construed otherwise, according to Mt. Lebanon Public Library officials, who asked photographer John Flatz to replace it with something else.

He refused, and thus began a tug of war that has, for now, ended in a draw.

“Innocence,” a portrait in the classical style of a woman in slight deshabille, robes flowing off one shoulder, is in the library’s exhibition of Mr. Flatz’s architectural photographs through the end of February, but “the possibility exists that it could be challenged,” said Cynthia Landrum, assistant director and spokeswoman for the library. The library’s director, Cynthia Richey, is traveling overseas.

Since 1911, the original “Innocence” mural has occupied one of four corners framing the dome of the Mercer County Courthouse. Mr. Flatz photographed it, along with other architectural details of the courthouse, last winter. It was painted, along with three other allegorical murals (“Guilt” “Justice” and “Power of the Law”) by Edward Simmons, an internationally known muralist who also painted nine panels that hang in the Library of Congress.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.