The statue of President Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, surrounded by a Black man and a Native American man, that greets visitors at the entrance to New York’s American Museum of Natural History will be taken down, the museum announced. The museum’s decision follows both ongoing calls from activists to remove the statue for the racism it represents and recent protests against systemic racism across the country where protesters have taken down racist monuments. New York City, which owns the statue and building, approved the museum’s decision. New York State decided in 1920 that the 26th president would be memorialized at the museum, founded in part by his father, Theodore Roosevelt Sr.
Those who have called for the statue’s removal point to President Roosevelt’s beliefs in racial superiority, including eugenics. In 2017, protesters painted the base of the statue red, calling it a symbol of “patriarchy, white supremacy, and settler-colonialism” and for its removal in an online statement. Theodore Roosevelt IV, the president’s great-grandson and a trustee of the museum, approved of the removal in a statement to the New York Times. “The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice,” he said. “The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward.” President Trump, meanwhile, tweeted, “Ridiculous, don’t do it!” in response to news of the statue’s removal. In absence of the statue, the museum will name its Hall of Biodiversity after the president — whose name also graces a hall, a rotunda, and the surrounding park.