Why Was Theodore Roosevelt Removed From the Museum of Natural History?

The Museum of Natural History is a renowned institution that has been a hub for scientific exploration and education for over a century. However, recently it has been in the news for an unexpected reason – the removal of a statue of former US President Theodore Roosevelt.

What Was the Controversy About?

The statue in question was located at the entrance of the museum and depicted Roosevelt on horseback with an African man and a Native American man walking alongside him. The statue, which was installed in 1940, has long been criticized for its racist and colonial undertones.

Many people found the depiction of the two non-white men as subservient to Roosevelt to be offensive and perpetuating harmful stereotypes. In recent years, there have been calls to remove the statue, but it wasn’t until June 2020 that the museum announced its decision to do so.

Why Was Theodore Roosevelt Chosen for the Statue?

Theodore Roosevelt was chosen as the subject of this statue due to his significant contributions to conservation efforts in America. During his presidency from 1901-1909, he established several national parks and wildlife refuges and set aside millions of acres of land for conservation purposes.

However, while he may have been an advocate for conservation, he also held deeply problematic views on race and colonialism. He once declared that “the conquest of the earth..means nothing unless accompanied by Christianization” and referred to Africans as “ape-like.” These views were reflected in the design of the statue where he is depicted towering over two non-white men.

What Does This Decision Mean?

The removal of this statue is part of a wider movement across America to reassess public monuments and their historical significance. Many statues that were once celebrated are now being re-evaluated through a modern lens that takes into account their representation of marginalized communities.

Removing this statue is a step towards acknowledging the problematic views and actions of historical figures and recognizing the harm they have caused. It is also a way to make space for more inclusive and diverse representation in public spaces.

Final Thoughts

The decision to remove the statue of Theodore Roosevelt from the Museum of Natural History was not taken lightly, but it was necessary. While Roosevelt’s contributions to conservation are significant, his views on race and colonialism cannot be ignored.

By taking down this statue, the museum has demonstrated its commitment to creating an inclusive environment that recognizes the diversity of people and perspectives. It is a reminder that history is complex, and we must continue to critically examine our past in order to build a better future.