West Side Rag »Teddy Roosevelt Statue Heads To North Dakota; “Goodbye or good riddance depends on your point of view”

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Posted on December 3, 2021 at 2:07 p.m. by Carol Tannenhauser

The American Museum of Natural History. Photograph by TD Hudson.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The scaffolding makes it real. The process has started.

Whether you are celebrating or crying, ranting or laughing, the Equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt, as it’s officially called, is retired after 81 years of welcoming visitors to the American Museum of Natural History on 80th Street and Central Park West.

According to the board of trustees of Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, North Dakota, this unofficial hosting role of the museum is in part the reason for its removal, where the statue is being sent on “long-term loan”. ” from New York. Not everyone feels welcome there.

The statue comes with heavy luggage; he has long been a source of anger and protest from individuals and groups who believe he portrays people of color as submissive and inferior – and whites as superior. The statue depicts Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, flanked by a black man and a Native American, half-dressed and on foot.

Photograph by Edward H. Blake via WikipediaCommons.

“The board of trustees of the TR library believes the equestrian statue is problematic in its composition,” a press release said. “Plus, its current location denies the consent and background of passers-by. The deal with the city allows the TR Library to move the statue for storage while considering a display that would allow it to serve as an important tool for studying the nation’s past.

Presumably, this process will take place by 2026, when the TR Library is scheduled to open.

Members of the Roosevelt family support the plan. “With their additional support, the TR Library will establish an advisory council made up of representatives of indigenous tribal and black communities, historians, academics and artists to guide the recontextualization of the statue,” the statement said.

Theodore Roosevelt V, a great-great-grandson of the president, said: “Rather than burying a disturbing work of art, we should learn from it. “

Removing the statue will be “a process of several months, including the restoration of the steps,” an AMNH spokesperson told Rag. (What will the skaters do in the meantime?) “We don’t have a specific date for the withdrawal, but we will get back to you as soon as the schedule is resolved. “

The museum will pay the cost of removing the statue, according to the New York Times, which also reported that a design had been approved for a plaque for the empty site.

As one man from the Upper West Side put it, “Goodbye or good riddance depends on your perspective.”

Either way, the statue is unlikely to welcome as many passers-by as it does today. Medora (shown below) has a population of 129.

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