Roosevelt statue to visit North Dakota Presidential Library

In June, the New York City Public Design Commission made up his mind : After more than 80 years presiding over the entrance to the Ameri...


In June, the New York City Public Design Commission made up his mind: After more than 80 years presiding over the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History, the bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, on horseback and flanked by a Native American and an African, was collapsing.

The statue’s future home has now been identified: it is expected to travel to Medora, North Dakota, where it will ultimately be on display in the new Presidential Theodore Roosevelt Library – located near the former Roosevelt Badlands Cattle Ranches – in as a long-term loan from New York City.

“Museums are supposed to do hard things,” Edward F. O’Keefe, executive director of Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, said on Friday. “Our job is to take a straight look at history to understand the present and create a better future. “

The library, which should open in 2026 in Medora (population 129), will offer a distance in years and kilometers from the perch of the statue to the entrance of one of the most important museums in New York City.

Designed by American sculptor James Earle Fraser, the statue has stood on the steps of the museum, overlooking Central Park West, since 1940. In recent years, however, it has been the target of protests from those who regard it as a symbol of colonialism. .

“Height is power in public art, and Roosevelt’s stature on his noble steed visibly expresses dominance and superiority over Native American and African figures,” a mayor’s panel examining monuments and markers on the properties of the city written in a 2018 report. (He ultimately decided to leave the statue in place, with some additional context.)

The statue will be stored until it is displayed when the library opens. (The long-term loan agreement and any plans to display the statue are subject to final approval by the city’s Public Design Commission.)

With the support of the Roosevelt family, the library will also establish an advisory council made up of representatives of indigenous and black peoples, as well as historians, academics and artists to determine how to recontextualize the statue.

“It is fitting that the statue be moved to a place where its composition can be recontextualized to facilitate difficult, complex and inclusive discussions,” Theodore Roosevelt V, a great-great-grandson of the president, said in a statement.

The arrangement came after the Public Design Commission voted unanimously in June to remove the statue and move it to a cultural institution dedicated to the life and heritage of the former president. The museum had recognized that the portrayal was problematic and, after years of activist objections and in the midst of an urgent national conversation about racism, offered to remove the statue in June 2020. New York City, owner of building and property, accepted the suggestion. , and Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed support.

Vicki Been, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said the loan “would allow a significant portion of the city’s art collection to be properly contextualized.”

The president of the American Museum of Natural History, Ellen V. Futter, said the museum expects the withdrawal process, which will take several months, to begin later this fall. (Anne Canty, spokesperson for the museum, said in an email that the museum would pay for its removal and that the commission had approved a plaque for the site, as well as a restoration of the steps.)

The announcement comes amid a nationwide debate over the suitability of statues or monuments that initially focused on Confederate officials like Robert E. Lee before expanding to a wider set of figures, like Christopher Colombus or Winston Churchill. Last month, municipal authorities voted unanimously to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from the chambers of New York City Council, citing his history as a slave owner, and several other statues of Jefferson were removed or destroyed last year, including those in Oregon and Georgia. (The statue of the New York City Council will find a home in the New-York Historical Society.)

The American Museum of Natural History has also reassessed the exhibits in its halls.

In January 2020, the museum moved the Large Northwest Coast Canoe from its 77th Street entrance to this lobby to better contextualize it. The museum’s Old New York diorama, which includes a stereotype representation of Lenape leaders, also now has captions explaining why the posting is offensive.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Roosevelt statue to visit North Dakota Presidential Library
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