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Roosevelt statue removed from New York Museum after controversy

(CNN) – A statue of US President Theodore Roosevelt that had stood in front of a New York museum for nearly 80 years was removed this week after its “racist” image was criticized.

The statue, which was once in the Museum of Natural History, shows the twenty-sixth president on horseback with a Native American and an African man on either side of it.

Foto: Caitlin Ochs / Reuters

A museum spokesperson told CNN in a written statement Thursday that the removal of the statue “was done with history preservation professionals and approved by various agencies in New York City.” It will include the restoration of the square in front of the museum.

The removal process began Tuesday, and the statue was gone Thursday after a year and a half.

The museum first requested removal of the statue in June 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the global protests that followed.

Roosevelt statue joins others

The Roosevelt statue now joins a group of other American antiquities that have been moved in recent months. Most, if not all, removals were prompted by the 2020 protests.

“The statue itself conveys an ethnic hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing,” the museum wrote in its June request. This is reflected in the composition of the statue: the white man, Roosevelt, is centered on a horse while the other two men standing behind him walk.

In this December 2, 2021 photo, construction workers begin removing a statue of Theodore Roosevelt. Image source: Yuki Iwamura / AFP / Getty Images

The June 2020 application was approved by then-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. A year later, the New York City Public Design Committee voted unanimously to remove and temporarily store the statue.

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A new home for the statue was announced last November: Medora, North Dakota, about two hours west of Bismarck, is in the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

The library, due to open in 2026, said in a statement that it had reached a long-term loan agreement with New York City.

Since 1940, the statue has stood in front of the New York Museum and was originally commissioned to celebrate Roosevelt.

“The museum is proud to continue as the site of the official New York State memorial to Theodore Roosevelt,” she added in a written statement.

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