The American Museum of Natural History will remove a prominent statue of former president Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance after years of objections that it symbolises colonial expansion and racial discrimination.
The bronze statue that has stood at the museum’s Central Park West entrance since 1940 depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and an African man standing beside the horse.
“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,” New York city mayor Bill de Blasio said in a written statement.
“The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
The Equestrian Statue in front of the Museum has long been controversial for the racial hierarchy it depicts. The Museum has asked that it be moved. More: https://t.co/3hgIWe0fqu pic.twitter.com/m99Bl1EEFT— American Museum of Natural History (@AMNH) June 21, 2020
The museum’s president, Ellen Futter, told the New York Times the museum’s “community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd”.
“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,” Ms Futter said.
Officials said it had not been determined when the Roosevelt statue would be removed and where it would go.
“The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy,” Theodore Roosevelt IV, a great-grandson of the president, said in a statement to the Times. “It is time to move the statue and move forward.”
Ms Futter said the museum objected to the statue but not to Roosevelt, a pioneering conservationist whose father was a founding member of the museum and who served as New York’s governor before becoming the 26th president.
She said the museum would name its Hall of Biodiversity for Roosevelt “in recognition of his conservation legacy”.
In 2017, protesters splashed red liquid on the statue’s base to represent blood and published a statement calling for its removal as an emblem of “patriarchy, white supremacy and settler-colonialism”.