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John Waters Sees Museum Toilets Named in His Honor

John Waters at the Baltimore Museum of Art

The queer filmmaker behind cult classics like Hairspray donated his art collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

In what is perhaps a fitting honor for a director whose film Polyester featured Odorama scratch and sniff cards and a movie poster with the image of a pink toliet, Baltimore Museum of Art has renamed two bathrooms in the East Lobby “The John Waters Restrooms.”

Musuems are typically quite classy spaces, with fine art gracing the walls surronded by grand architecture. When someone bequeaths their art collection their name may be memorialized with a wing of the musuem renamed in their honor.

John Waters is not what you'd describe as high class, indeed, the cult filmmaker of decidedly low-brow movies like Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Female Trouble (all starring Divine) is the self-proclaimed “Pope of Trash.” 

In fact, Waters claims that when he donated his collection of art to the museum he insisted on the bathrooms bearing his name. He told the Baltimore Sun, “Renaming the bathrooms was my idea right from the beginning. They thought I was kidding and I said, ‘No, I’m serious.' It’s in the spirit of the artwork I collect, which has a sense of humor and is confrontational and minimalist and which makes people crazy.”

Waters's donation, which came with the stipulation that it could never be sold, includes works by Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, Roy Lichtenstein, Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman — and Waters himself. Waters, who was the subject of a major retrospective at the BMA in 2018, donated almost 90 prints, sculptures, videos and mixed-media pieces he created.

“The collection is extraordinary because it demonstrates John’s reach into the cultural world and his social dexterity," Christopher Bedford, the BMA’s director told the Baltimore Sun. "On the one hand, there is this embrace of public vulgarity. But he’s also this incredibly centered, tender, decent and dignified human being. The works can be vulgar and glib, but they’re just as often aesthetically refined. That’s what makes John so dear to this city.”  

The Musuem has also christened the domed room in the European art galleries as “The John Waters Rotunda.”

Destruction No. 8 by Tadashi Kawamate from John Waters's collectionDestruction No. 8 by Tadashi Kawamate from John Waters's collection donated to the Baltimore Art Museum.

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