After years of protests against its presence in front of New York’s American Museum of Natural History, a controversial statue of President Teddy Roosevelt on horseback surrounded by Native Americans has finally been taken down.
The bronze sculpture, which included Roosevelt on horseback and Native American and Black figures on either side of him, was erected in 1940 and has been considered offensive to people of color for decades.
Tim Fitzsimons of NBC News reported the statue removal process, which is being “conducted with historic preservation specialists and approved by multiple New York City agencies, will include restoration of the plaza in front of the Museum [and] will continue through the spring.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the museum said that while administrators are happy to have the controversial statue gone, “The Museum is proud to continue as the site of New York State’s official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt.”
A statue of Theodore Roosevelt was removed overnight from its spot outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The statue depicts Roosevelt riding a horse, as two nameless African and Native American men flank him on foot. https://t.co/KqLwUHcY6n
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 20, 2022
According to Fitzsimons, “The statue had long drawn accusations of racism. In 2020, the museum requested its removal because of its depiction of subjugation and racial inferiority. Former mayor Bill de Blasio quickly indicated his support.”
In a statement, de Blasio was quoted as saying, “It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
After the New York City Public Design Commission approved the statue’s removal, they partnered with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, who will be taking the statue in on a long-term loan.
“Historians regard Roosevelt’s legacy as both ‘progressive’ and ‘racist’ as he ‘viewed other peoples around the world as distinctly inferior to Americans,’” Fitzsimons noted.