By Roni Leider
After much controversy, the Theodore Roosevelt statue has been removed from the Museum of Natural History in New York City. It is a hugely important historical monument that has changed the meaning for many in recent years. As time has evolved, people have become increasingly aware of racism, and how it is glorified by history. While some believe history should be embraced, others believe the portrayal of history needs to be adapted to modern times.
Last June, the New York City Public Design Commission voted to remove the statue, which was said to have cost around $2 million. Once it is dismantled, the monument will be taken to the new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, located in Medora, North Dakota. It is expected to be shipped and moved to the library in the coming weeks.
For decades opposition to the statue has been voiced. Former governor and 26th United States president Theodore Roosevelt has been associated with colonialism and racism, which many believe has no place at the museum. The monument portrays former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt riding a horse, while two unidentified men stand next to him. One of these figures is of African descent, while the other is Native American. Over the years, activists have physically targeted the monument, attempting to deface it or cover it with a parachute.
According to the museum, the killing of George Floyd led to the ultimate decision to remove the statue. The killing served as a reminder that racism and colonialism still loomed large in the American background. Historically Roosevelt has been considered to be a racist by many, removing the statue seemed like the appropriate action to take. Former New York mayor, Bill de Blasio has stated, “the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.” On the other hand, former president Donald Trump has disagreed stating “Ridiculous, don’t do it”.
The infamous bronze monument has been in the Museum since 1940. The process of removing the statue began in mid-January, and the current plan, which involves the statue being taken apart and removed incrementally throughout the week, has been approved by various city agencies.