Roosevelt statue removed from New York museum amid racial controversy


Adam Fagen | Flickr

Zena Mohamed

After 80 years of the statue’s residency, recently of which involved complaints and protests to remove the structure from the public eye, the American Museum of Natural History Museum removed a statue of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt on Jan. 20.

This comes after controversy over the statue, as many many activists voiced concern over museums allowing such figures to be so openly revealed to the general public even though they encapsulate the country’s history of racism and colonialism.

The sculpture, named the “Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt,” shows the 26th president on horseback with two men on either side of him — one who is Native American and the other a man of African descent.
The statue reinforces the racial hierarchy long debated and fought against in the United States.

In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned an evaluation of the statue and other monuments that portrayed historical figures with racist pasts as heroes.

Finally, in June 2020, the city granted the museum’s request to move the 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.

It was a $2 million removal process to move the statue, with the help of historic preservation specialists and multiple New York City agencies that thought that it was necessary to take part in the operation.

At the time, half of the individuals involved in the mission believed more research is needed to ensure that what is being demonstrated is historically accurate. Others desired immediate relocation because it the statue is tied to a prejudiced past and has hurt and offended many.

“They should’ve done it earlier, I don’t know how a statue conveying such a terrible message is even allowed to be right in front of such a well-known museum,” Anais Castro, a freshman at Baruch College, said.

This desired change has resulted in a movement of activists voicing which sculptures they believe shouldn’t be kept up in order for society to continue moving towards equity.

The statue has since been moved to the Theodore Roosevelt presidential library in Medora, North Dakota.