A Confederate flag hanging from a noose on a 13-foot gallows will remain on display despite protests from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who call it an affront to Southern heritage.

"The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag" by black artist John Sims is "offensive, objectionable and tasteless," Robert Hurst, commander of the local camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Friday.

But the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science said it stands by Sims' work, part of a larger exhibit called "AfroProvocations," because it wants to inspire dialogue.

The debates dates to the Civil War in the 1860s, when southern U.S. states broke away from the United States and formed the Confederacy for several reasons, including their support of slavery. The question of how to remember that era remains a sensitive one today.

In an e-mail, Sims said he is interested in making powerful statements about powerful issues. "I own some stock too in Southern Heritage and wish to make a statement about the sort of logos and symbols that are associated with it."

Hurst said he has discussed the possibility of taking legal action.

Florida statutes say it is unlawful to "deface, defile or contemptuously abuse" the Confederate flag, but say it is also illegal to prevent the display of the flag "for decorative or patriotic purposes."

Hurst also was angry that Chucha Barber, the museum's executive director, asked him to put his objections in writing and then distributed Hurst's e-mail to the board and to the media without asking for his approval.

"They're alienating a large portion of the population around here," Hurst said. "Maybe they just wanted to cause some controversy."