New York’s Natural History Museum to remove Theodore Roosevelt statue

Photo ©Nicole Saraniero
As cultural institutions are questioning their relationship to racism amongst the wider Black Lives Matter protests, The American Museum of Natural History announced last week that the Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt would be removed from outside the New York institution. It joins a long list of monuments to Confederate generals, slave traders and other racist figures that have been taken down in the U.S. and beyond over this past month.


Since its installation in 1940, the statue has been a cause for controversy, with activists condemning Roosevelt’s racist views and the way in which the work depicts the Black and Indigenous people flanking the former President. Over the years, protestors have covered the monument with a tarpaulin, thrown red paint over it, and focused the annual ‘Decolonize This Place’ march on Indigenous Peoples’ Day around the site. When up for review as part of the New York City Commission on Controversial Monuments in 2017, the committee chose to keep the statute but run an open-ended exhibition entitled “Addressing the Statue”, to open an “honest, respectful, open dialogue”.

In a statement regarding the statue’s removal, the museum’s president, Ellen Futter, said, “As we strive to advance our institution’s, our city’s, and our country’s passionate quest for racial justice, we believe that removing the statue will be a symbol of progress and of our commitment to build and sustain an inclusive and equitable museum community and broader society.”