Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Saturday, 30 July 2005 18:30 UK

Gallery urges visitors to strip

Scantily-clad visitors to Leopold Museum, Vienna
Hundreds of people stripped off - but most kept at least something on

A prestigious Vienna art gallery has encouraged art-lovers to strip off, letting naked or scantily-clad visitors in for free.

The Leopold Museum hosted hundreds of skin-baring sightseers to mark the launch of The Naked Truth, an exhibition of early 1900s erotic art.

"We find a naked body every bit as beautiful as a clothed one," museum founder Elisabeth Leopold said.

The exhibition in the Austrian capital hosts artworks by Klimt and Schiele.

The gallery's commercial director, Peter Weinhaeupl, said he wanted to help people cool off in heat that hit the mid-30s Celsius (mid-90s Fahrenheit).

He also said he hoped to create a mini-scandal reminiscent of the shock when the artists first unveiled their risque paintings.

Scantily-clad visitors to Leopold Museum, Vienna
The 180 works will be on display until the end of August
"It's a bit of an experiment," he said. "Egon Schiele was a young and wild person in his day. He'd want to be here."

Mrs Leopold, who set up the museum with husband Rudolf, added: "If they came only out of lust, we have to accept that. We stand for the truth."

One visitor, Mario Vorhemes, 20, wore just a pair of swimming briefs and asked: "What's the big deal?

"We're born naked into this world. Why can't we walk around in it without clothes from time to time?"

SEE ALSO
Hundreds of nudes cross the Tyne
17 Jul 05 |  Arts & Culture
Stripping off in the name of art
18 Jul 05 |  Arts & Culture
'Art night' falls to nudity ban
06 Apr 05 |  Business
Gallery owner 'encourages nudity'
25 Sep 04 |  Wiltshire
Cultural centre for Vienna stables
03 Aug 01 |  Entertainment
Arts complex goes naked
17 Feb 01 |  Europe

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