On Wednesday, the controversial statue of Theodore Roosevelt still hidden outside the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan was sprayed with red paint, apparently in anticipation of Columbus Day on Monday. The statue, which depicts Roosevelt riding a horse and being ridden by a native and a Black man, has garnered controversy over the years for its colonialist vision and implementation. Earlier this year, the New York City Public Design Commission unanimously voted to demolish the statue and transfer it to an unnamed cultural institution to be dedicated to the former president’s legacy.
Even in the hope of removing the statue, it appears that the figure of Roosevelt is still a target. “Other major cities have been proactive in removing offensive monuments and renaming Columbus Day,” Decolonize This Place said Hyperallergic while emphasizing that the organization had nothing to do with the recent paint explosion. “What’s going on in New York? It’s been 16 months since the Mayor agreed to remove the Roosevelt triptych, and he’s still not moving to properly recognize the Indigay of the People of the Sun.”
The statue in question is officially entitled Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt, and it was commissioned in the 1930s by the Roosevelt Memorial Association and sculpted by the artist James Earle Fraser. “It was clarified that the removal of the statue will be a symbol of progress towards an inclusive and equitable community,” Dan Slippen, vice president of government relations at the Museum of Natural History, said. said this summer.
Meanwhile, a statue of George Floyd which was set up in Union Square was also destroyed this week. Regardless of the motivation of the vandals, it appears that this is a dangerous time for New York City’s public art.