Controversial statue of US President Theodore Roosevelt outside NYC Natural History Museum finds a home in North Dakota

The statue will be on long-term loan to the recently announced Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, which opens in Medora in 2026, according to Friday’s statement.

In June, the New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously to remove and temporarily keep the statue after years of debate. The removal of the statue is subject to final approval by the Design Commission and is expected to take several months from late fall, said American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) President Ellen V. Futter in a statement.
The statue depicts the 26th president on horseback flanked by a Native American man on one side and an African man on the other – and conveys a “racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing,” the museum wrote in its first request for removal in June 2020.

Members of the Roosevelt family support the decision to move the statue to the planned presidential library in North Dakota, and the statement said they “will set up an advisory board of representatives of indigenous tribal and black communities, historians, researchers and artists to guide the recontextualization of the statue. “

“The equestrian statue is problematic in its hierarchical depiction of its subjects and should be removed from New York’s official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt,” said Theodore Roosevelt V, a descendant of the late President. “Instead of burying a troubling work of art, we should learn from it.”

He continued: “It is fitting that the statue be moved to a place where its composition can be recontextualized to facilitate difficult, complex and inclusive discussions.”

The statue, unveiled in front of the museum in 1940 as part of a larger nationwide memorial to Roosevelt, a former governor of New York, was originally intended to celebrate him, according to a statement from the AMNH.

“At the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing,” reads the statement from the museum.

“Museums are supposed to do tough things,” Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Executive Director Edward F. O’Keefe said in a statement. “It is said that ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, and our task is precisely to examine history in order to understand the present and create a better future.”

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