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Picasso Museum overturns 'art risk' breastfeeding ban

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Picasso Museum overturns 'art risk' breastfeeding ban
Archive image of a woman in Spain breastfeeding. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP.
17:47 CET+01:00
A mother who started to breastfeed while viewing an exhibit at the Picasso Museum in Málaga was asked to leave the gallery, prompting a chorus of complaints.

The Picasso Museum in Málaga insisted that breastfeeding was not allowed  under regulations banning food and drink inside the gallerys to avoid damage to the exhibits.

A mother was viewing an exhibit at the Picasso Museum of Málaga on January 5th with her one-year-old baby son in tow. 

While looking at the artwork, the woman said her baby started to signal that he wanted to be fed, so she sat down and started to nurse him, she explained to group Lactancia en Libertad - Breastfeeding in Freedom.

A museum security guard went to the woman and told her that breastfeeding was not allowed within exhibition rooms and that she would have to move to the cafeteria to continue to nurse her child. The museum had a sign at the entrance that explained this.

The mother said that after leaving the gallery room, her baby started to get restless so she decided to leave the museum without seeing all of the displays.

The woman filed a complaint to the museum and a chorus of pro-public breastfeeding groups jumped in to support her effort.

"It seems wrong that in these times there is still controversy over breastfeeding in public places," wrote Lactancia en Libertad in a post on February 2nd, who said they had recieved at least one other complaint about the museum.

"It's hard to believe, but that is why our association was created, in order to have a place complaints from mothers who are reprimanded and expelled from places, and so that society see that these incidents happen relatively often and are not isolated events."

The group later published what they said was an initial response letter from the museum to the mother of the one-year-old, explaining that the museum had "rigorous policy of conservation" of their artwork.

"These guidelines try to avoid all possible risks, and therefore we do not permit eating or drinking in exposition rooms, including for babies and small children," states the letter, signed by manager Guillermo Peiró.

Lactancia en Libertad created a Facebook page opposing the museum's policy, gathering more than 400 members within about a week. 

But on Monday, the museum seemed to have had a change of heart as artistic director José Lebrero announced that women would be allowed to breastfeed in exhibit halls "when it is necessary", according to El Pais.

Lebrero said that have reviewing the case, he decided that there was no written protocol on breastfeeding and therefore they would allow mothers to nurse freely when they choose to.

Other breastfeeding groups praised the decision, including the Association to Breastfeed in Córdoba, which wrote on Twitter that "we give a congratulations to Lactancia in Freedom and gratitude to the Picasso Museum which has come to its senses and rectified itself".

Supporters of the free breastfeeding policy had also pointed out that other museums like London's National Gallery allow women to nurse "anywhere".

Maternity groups filed a complaint last year in Granada when a mother was expelled from a historic tourist site because she was breastfeeding. Authorities in charge of the site later apologized for the incident.

And left-wing Podemos party representative Carolina Bescansa made headlines when she brought her baby son and nursed him openly at the opening session of the new parliament in January.

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