Museum of Natural History in New York Removes Theodore Roosevelt StatueBreaking News
tags: museums, Theodore Roosevelt, memorials, statues, New York, public history
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City quietly began removing a controversial statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt on Tuesday night in the final chapter of a saga that has stretched for nearly a year and a half. By Thursday, only scaffolding and tarp remained.
"The relocation of the Equestrian Statue from the front steps of the American Museum of Natural History began Tuesday," a museum spokesperson told NPR over email. "The process, conducted with historic preservation specialists and approved by multiple New York City agencies, will include restoration of the plaza in front of the Museum, which will continue through the spring."
The spokesperson added that such work is required to be conducted during nighttime hours for safety reasons and to minimize disruption to traffic and pedestrians. The statue will be stored in New York and prepared for long-haul shipping, and it is expected to be transported to North Dakota in the next few weeks (more on that below).
The bronze statue — officially named "Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt"— has towered outside the museum's entrance for some 80 years and became a source of local and national debate in recent years. It depicts the former New York governor and 26th U.S. president sitting on a horse, flanked by two shirtless, unnamed men. One is Native American and the other is of African descent.
The statue was commissioned in 1925 to stand on the museum's steps, since Roosevelt's father was one of its founders and Roosevelt himself was a "devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history," as the museum's website explains.
But it adds that the design itself "communicates a racial hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing." Roosevelt's legacy — especially his views on race and support for the eugenics movement — has also come under wider scrutiny in recent years.
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