Roosevelt statue removed from New York museum after controversy

Roosevelt statue removed from New York museum after controversy

A statue of US President Theodore Roosevelt that stood in front of a New York museum for almost 80 years was removed this week following criticism of its “racial” image.

The sculpture, which was located in the Natural History Museum, featured the 26th President on horseback with a Native American man and an African man on either side of him.

A museum spokesperson told Citizen Free Press in a written statement Thursday that the statue’s removal process was “conducted with historic preservation specialists and approved by various New York City agencies.” It will include a restoration of the square in front of the museum.

Removal began Tuesday and the sculpture was gone Thursday, after a year-and-a-half process.

The museum first requested that the statue be removed in June 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the global protests that followed.

Roosevelt statue joins others

The Roosevelt statue now joins a host of other American monuments that have been relocated in recent months. Most, if not all, of these removals were prompted by the 2020 protests.

“The statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing,” the museum wrote in its June request. This is conveyed in the composition of the statue: the white man, Roosevelt, is positioned in the center on horseback while the other two men are behind him, walking.

That June 2020 request was approved by then-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. A year later, the New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously to remove and temporarily store the sculpture.

A new home for the statue was announced last November: Medora, North Dakota, about two hours west of Bismarck, at the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

The library, due to open in 2026, said in a statement that it had reached a long-term loan agreement with New York City.

Since 1940, the sculpture had stood in front of the New York museum and was originally commissioned to celebrate Roosevelt.

“The Museum is proud to continue as the site of New York State’s official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt,” it added in a written statement.

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