At museum in Vienna, nude is the new normal

These museum-goers didn't just leave their coats at the coat check. They handed over their shirts, trousers and underwear.

Everything, in fact, except their shoes and socks. After all, the stone floor can get chilly when you're touring an art exhibit in the nude, which was what more than 60 art lovers did in a special after-hours showing at Vienna's prestigious Leopold museum.

For many, the tour of Nude Men from 1800 to Today — an exhibit of 300 paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures focussed on the bare male —was a goosebump-raising instance of life imitating art. "I can't say I'm sweating," said office worker Herbert Korvas as he stood waiting in the atrium with other young men, wearing only socks, sneakers and a smile. Despite the cold, he said he was drawn to the idea of naked museum viewing "because it was something different".

But after a while it really wasn't. With no other viewers around, nude became the new normal as the visitors quickly gathered around a - dressed - exhibition guide and moved slowly from one art work to the next, listening intently to their history.

And they weren't the first visitors to get naked either, despite the hoopla around the event that drew dozens of reporters and camera teams from Austria and elsewhere.

A man had already stripped at the exhibition in November, calmly sauntering through the exhibition and dressing again only after a security guard asked him to do so. That act made news - and sparked demand for Monday's all-nude showing, said museum spokesman Klaus Pokorny.

"We got requests from all over the world from people who were inspired by the exhibition... who asked us, 'Can we visit the exhibition naked?" he said.

On Monday, interest was definitely skewed along gender lines. Irina Wolf smiled as she looked around at the mostly male crowd lining up for tickets.

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