New York City’s American Museum of Natural History announced Sunday that it will remove a statue of former president Theodore Roosevelt from outside its entrance.
The bronze statue, which has stood outside of the museum entrance since 1940, depicts Roosevelt riding horseback accompanied by a Native American and an African American male. According to the announcement, the move stems from nationwide attacks on confederate statues and protests over the death of George Floyd.
“Over the last few weeks, our museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd,” the museum’s president, Ellen V. Futter, told the New York Times. “We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism.”
“Simply put,” Futter added, “the time has come to move it.”
The decision to remove the statue was proposed by museum officials and approved by the city of New York, which owns the property and the building.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio also commented on the issue, saying now is the time to remove the “problematic statue.”
“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” de Blasio said in a statement. “The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
As for now, museum officials have not stated where the statue will end up or if anything will be put in its place.
A great-grandson of Roosevelt’s, who shares his name and also serves as a trustee to the museum, released a statement approving of the statue’s removal.
“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,” said Theodore Roosevelt IV. “The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward.”
In going along with the museum’s plan to remove the statue, the Roosevelt family received a hall renaming in return. According to Futter, the museum will name its Hall of Biodiversity for Roosevelt “in recognition of his conservation legacy.”
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