Respect

New York museum removes controversial statue of Teddy Roosevelt

Story at a glance

  • The New York Times reports workers removed large parts of the statue with a crane just after midnight.
  • Critics of the statue view it as a representation of racial hierarchy, and protests over the statue had increased over recent years, particularly following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.
  • The museum announced in November the statue would be moved on long-term loan to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota.

A statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt erected outside New York City’s American Museum of Natural History more than 80 years ago was removed Thursday morning over claims the monument glorifies colonialism and racial discrimination, according to The New York Times 

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The New York Times reports workers removed large parts of the statue with a crane just after midnight. Remaining portions of the memorial are set to be hauled off through the rest of the week. The removal was carried out by historic preservation specialists and several dozen workers.  

The monument that has sat outside the entrance of the museum since 1940 shows the 26th president on horseback, flanked by an African and Native American man who are following on foot.  

Critics of the statue view it as a representation of racial hierarchy, and protests over the statue had increased over recent years, particularly following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. Shortly after Floyd’s murder, the museum requested the removal of the statue as widespread demonstrations against racial inequality and police brutality broke out across the country.  


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Several of the protests included the toppling or vandalism of statues depicting Confederate leaders and historical figures like Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  

“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time.  

“The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue,” he said.  

Last June, the New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously to remove and relocate the statue. The museum announced in November the statue would be moved on long-term loan to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota.  

“The statue was meant to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as a devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history. Roosevelt’s father was one of the Museum’s founders, and the Museum is proud of its historic association with the Roosevelt family,” the museum says on its website 

“At the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing,” the museum says.  

The American Museum of Natural History did not immediately return Changing America’s request for comment. 


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