The American Museum of Natural History is removing the statue of former US President Theodore Roosevelt from NYC Park as the statue has is being largely seen to have racial connotations.
Over the last few weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has spread like wildfire in the US and Europe. Europe, in particular, has targeted and removed a number of statues that have racial connections.
The recent move in the US is to remove an equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt that has a Native American and an African on either side. The statue’s hierarchical positioning is said to reflect other races as inferior, hence the removal.
Theodore Roosevelt has been the governor of New York before becoming the President of the United States from 1901-1909.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unanimously supported the move saying “it is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.” Blasio assured the City supports the Museum’s move.
The American Museum of Natural History said in a statement that the museum community has been”profoundly moved” by the “eye-widening” movement that has succeeded the death of George Floyd. The museum says they’ve also noticed the world’s increasing attention to statues and monuments as some of them stand for powerful and hurtful symbols of systematic racism.
The statue has long been controversial because of the hierarchical composition that places one figure on horseback and the others walking alongside, and many find its depictions of the Native American and African figures and their placement racist.
“While the Statue is owned by the City, the Museum recognizes the importance of taking a position at this time. We believe that the Statue should no longer remain and have requested that it be moved,” the museum said in a statement.
The Great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, who is a trustee of the museum told: “The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice. The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the Statue and move forward.”
‘Interstellar’ star Jessica Chastain took to her Instagram to show her disapproval for the statue. She posed for a selfie in front of the statue in Manhattan with a thumbs down gesture. She named the NYC Mayor for mandating the move.
It immediately remains unclear when the statue will be removed and where it will be placed. If media reports are to be believed, the museum might name one of its wings after Roosevelt, as a compensation to the removal.
Theodore Roosevelt’s bronze statue in front of the Museum of Natural History is the property of New York City and under the Museum’s proposal, the City administration has agreed to mandate the move. Roosevelt’s great-grandson, like his ancestors, is a part of the museum trustee.
(Cover image courtesy of Paulo JC Nogueira via Commons)
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