A MUSEUM may not be the usual venue for a debate about body image, but that is exactly what visitors to the new exhibition at Bournemouth’s Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum are being encouraged to discuss.

Stripped: The Body Beautiful combines classical sculptures and paintings of nudes from the museum’s own collection alongside more controversial works including those by the likes of artist Jonathan Yeo – collages made up of images of various body parts.

The exhibition, which runs at the museum until January 1, is based in a Mediterranean classical garden and explores the human body in all its forms from the Victorian era to the present day.

It also features a video montage of various televised body image discussion points, including an interview with model Twiggy, who shot to fame with her waif-life figure, and the Triumph bra advert.

Helen Ivaldi, the museum’s collections officer (interpretation), said: “Even the classical work would have been quite shocking in late Victorian times. But the way that artists got around the shock factor was that it could be justified if they were naked and classical, like Greek mythology.

“We also have here some sculptures by Jonathan Elgar that are for sale. The idea of this exhibition is to provoke debate gently, without shocking.

“With our temporary exhibitions we try to choose an element that’s part of the Russell-Cotes collection, looking at what wasn’t on display, the human body came out as a really strong element. We are trying to put a more modern twist on that. This is one of our more progressive exhibitions.”

The exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Admission charges apply. Visit russell-cotes.bournemouth.gov.uk for more details.