NY’s Natural History Museum Cleared to Remove Roosevelt Statue

In June 2020, amidst nationwide protests against police violence and racism, the American Museum of Natural History in New York announced that it would remove the statue of President Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance. A year later, the New York City Public Design Commission has voted unanimously to take down the statue, clearing the final hurdle for its permanent deinstallation.

Because the statue sits on city-owned land, city officials needed to approve the removal. The mayor’s office had assented to the deinstallation earlier this year. The design commission, which oversees all art on city-owned land, needed to give the final approval.

Although the design commission has voted in favor of removing the statue, the museum has not yet announced a timeline as to when the statue will be removed, nor has it announced where it go after it is removed. A spokesperson for the museum told Art Newspaper, “The statue is intended to be relocated to a cultural institution, or its grounds, dedicated to the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. Discussions concerning storage and ultimate destination are ongoing.”

Critics have argued that the Roosevelt statue includes racist depictions of both an Indigenous and a Black men. Roosevelt is shown fully clothed riding atop a horse, while the other men are standing next to him shirtless. Since 2016, the group Decolonize This Place has held an annual protest of the Roosevelt statue on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.