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A statue of President Theodore Roosevelt will be relocated from the front of the American Museum of Natural History, where it has stood for more than 80 years.
The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation announced in a press release Friday that the statue of the President, Naturalist, and Founder of the National Park Service, will be moved to Roosevelt’s Presidential Library, which is set to open in 2026.
“The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library … today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the City of New York for the longterm loan and reconsideration of the Equestrian Statue designed by James Earle Fraser, which was commissioned by the Board of Trustees of the New York State Roosevelt Memorial in 1929 and has stood on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City since 1940,” the statement reads in part.
The statement then explained that the reason for the relocation was because the statue was “problematic,” and lacked “consent and context.”
“The board of the TR Library believes the Equestrian Statue is problematic in its composition. Moreover, its current location denies passersby consent and context. The agreement with the City allows the TR Library to relocate the statue for storage while considering a display that would enable it to serve as an important tool to study the nation’s past.”
“With the support of members of the Roosevelt family, the TR Library will establish an Advisory Council composed of representatives of the Indigenous Tribal and Black communities, historians, scholars, and artists to guide the recontextualization of the statue.”
“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,” said Theodore Roosevelt V, the great-grandson of the former president, in the statement. “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.”
“We are grateful to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library for proposing a fitting new home for the Equestrian Statue,” said Vicki Been, New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “This long-term loan would allow an important part of the City’s art collection to be appropriately contextualized, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Library on next steps.”
The museum will handle the statue’s relocation in coordination with the city of New York, the statement said. The city’s Public Design Commission must approve the statue’s relocation and any plans to display the statue. The Commission voted unanimously in June to relocate the statue, amid claims that the statue symbolizes racism and colonialism, according to the New York Post. Museum officials proposed the removal of the statue, which depicts Roosevelt on horseback, with a black man on his left side and a Native American on his right, in 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd protests and the nationwide movement to remove statues of famous figures over allegations of racism and colonialism.