WASHINGTON — Officials at the National Archives on Saturday said they would remove from display an altered photo of the 2017 Women’s March in which signs held by marchers that were critical of President Trump had been blurred.

In tweets on Saturday, the museum said: “We made a mistake.”

“As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration,” one of the tweets said.

“This photo is not an archival record held by the @usnatarchives, but one we licensed to use as a promotional graphic,” another tweet said. “Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image.”

The current display has been removed and will be replaced as soon as possible with one that uses the original, unaltered image, the archives said.

This is a close-up of an altered sign in a photograph from the Women’s March in 2017 that is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The original image is populated with a variety of signs; at least four of the signs are altered in the exhibit at the National Archives. Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

The altered 49-by-69-inch photograph was part of a display that showed the 2017 march from one perspective and, viewed from another angle, showed a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The display linked momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement.

Marchers in the 2017 photograph, taken by Mario Tama of Getty Images, were shown carrying a variety of signs, at least four of which were altered by the museum. A placard that proclaims “God Hates Trump” has “Trump” blotted out so that it reads “God Hates.” A sign that reads “Trump & GOP – Hands Off Women” has the word Trump blurred out. Signs with messages that referenced women’s anatomy – which were prevalent at the march – are also digitally altered.

Museum officials initially defended the alterations as an effort to be nonpartisan and because the museum hosts groups of students and young people, for whom some of the words could have been perceived as inappropriate.

But in a Washington Post article published Friday, prominent historians expressed dismay.

On Saturday after the museum’s acknowledgment, Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said he was pleased that the National Archives is “out of the photoshop business.”

“It’s refreshing that the National Archives stepped up and fixed a grave wrong,” he said. “It’s more important than ever that U.S. government institutions keep their integrity intact with the American public.”


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