A long-standing bronze statue of Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, America's 26th president, was taken down overnight Wednesday from its location right outside the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.
The statue was originally commissioned in the year 1925 and has occupied its place outside the museum's main entrance since the year 1940. Roosevelt's father was one of the prominent figures who founded the museum.
"The towering bronze statue depicts Roosevelt riding a horse, as two nameless African and Native American men flank him on foot," according to the Washington Post's characterization of the monument. "It has provoked strong debate in the city, as many criticized the apparent subservience of the pair to the White man in the center — calling the scene a symbol of racism and colonialism."
"The statue was meant to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt … as a devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history. 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's website had stated about its removal.
Former New York Mayor Bill De Blasio had previously called the statue "problematic" and said that it "explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior," while calling for the statue's removal.
The statue will now find "a fitting new home" in the state of North Dakota, where it will be on long-term loan there to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, scheduled to be completed in the year 2026. New York City officials made the decision last year, noting it could be "appropriately contextualized" there.
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