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Theodore Roosevelt statue at Museum of Natural History to be moved to North Dakota

A controversial statue of President Theodore Roosevelt that has stood in entrance of the American Museum of Natural History for over 80 years will be relocated to North Dakota.

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, which is about to open in 2026, said in a statement that “it has entered into an agreement with the City of New York for the long-term loan and reconsideration of the Equestrian Statue designed by James Earle Fraser.”

The announcement comes 5 months after the New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously to relocate the bronze effigy of the nation’s twenty sixth president amid claims that it symbolizes colonial subjugation and racial discrimination.

The monument  — which exhibits Roosevelt on horseback, flanked by an African man and a Native American man — has lengthy been criticized for glorifying colonialism and racism. It was vandalized with paint in 2017.

“We are grateful to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library for proposing a fitting new home for the Equestrian Statue,” Vicki Been, New York City’s deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development, stated within the Friday assertion.

“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,” she added.

A statue of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback flanked by a Native American man, left, and an African man, right.
The monument exhibits former President Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, flanked by an African man and a Native American man.
Kathy Willens/AP

The library agreed that the “statue is problematic in its composition. Moreover, its present 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,” the assertion added.

Edward O’Keefe, the library basis’s CEO, stated that “museums are supposed to do hard things. It is said that ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,’ and our job is to forthrightly examine history to understand the present and make a better future.”

Statue splattered with red paint.
The statue was vandalized with paint in 2017.
Erik Thomas

In the assertion, presidential descendant Theodore Roosevelt V stated that the “statue is problematic in its hierarchical depiction of its subjects and should be removed from New York State’s official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt.”

He added: “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.”

Ellen Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, stated, “We anticipate that work to take away the Equestrian Statue, which can take a number of months, will start later this fall.

Statue.
The New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously to relocate the statue amid claims that it symbolizes colonial subjugation and racial discrimination.
Robert Miller

“We thank the Roosevelt family and the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library for their roles in facilitating this important work,” she added.

Opposition to the statue mounted in recent times, particularly after the 2020 homicide of George Floyd, a black man whose final breaths beneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer sparked a racial reckoning and a wave of protests throughout the US.

In June 2020, officers at the museum — which is privately run however sits on public land — proposed eradicating the statue amid nationwide protests over racial inequality and a push to take away public works honoring Confederate leaders.

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