The statue of former US President Theodore Roosevelt that has stood outside New York’s American Museum of Natural History for over forty years will be moving to North Dakota.
The “Equestrian Statue” has been a source of contention for much of its life outside of the museum. Protestors have frequently called for the removal of the statue, and according to The Gothamist, demonstrations against the statue date back to the 1970s. The group Decolonize This Place has staged annual protests at the statue since 2016. Critics and American Museum of Natural History staff have said that the statue communicates a racial hierarchy; Indigenous and Black men are depicted in a subservient position to Roosevelt. In response, New York’s Public Design Commission voted to remove the statue in June.
The statue will be relocated to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library scheduled to open in 2026. In this long-term loan from the city, the statue will be put in storage while the library considers an appropriate display. The library plans to establish an advisory committee that would include representatives of the Indigenous Tribal and Black communities, historians, scholars, and artists to guide the recontextualization of the statue.
In a statement from the library Theodore Roosevelt V said, “The Equestrian Statue is problematic in its hierarchical depiction of its subjects and should be removed from New York State’s official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt. Rather than burying a troubling work of art, we ought to learn from it. It is fitting that the statue is being relocated to a place where its composition can be recontextualized to facilitate difficult, complex, and inclusive discussions.”