The Guggenheim has pulled three pieces of an upcoming taxpayer-funded exhibit, including a mock depiction of dog fighting, after criticism from animal rights groups.
The exhibit, Art and China After 1989, received a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The works that are being removed include video of pit bulls trying to fight each other on treadmills, and video of two pigs covered in tattoos having sex.
"Out of concern for the safety of its staff, visitors, and participating artists, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has decided against showing the art works Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other (2003), Theater of the World (1993), and A Case Study of Transference (1994) in its upcoming exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World," the museum said in a statement.
Theater of the World was the main piece of the show by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu and was going to "feature hundreds of live insects and reptiles milling under an overhead lamp," according to the New York Times.
Yuan and Yu are known for controversial "experimental art," in the past working with dead conjoined babies, transfused blood, human fat tissue, and other "extreme materials."
Animal rights groups led by PETA protested the new exhibit, which was made possible by a "major grant" funded by taxpayers.
The Guggenheim said it is pulling the most controversial pieces involving animals because the museum received violent threats.
"Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary," the museum said. "As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim."