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Theodore Roosevelt Statue Moved From New York to North Dakota

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota will open in 2026

The statue of President Theodore Roosevelt that was removed from the Museum of Natural History will go on display in North Dakota.

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library announced they had reached an agreement with the City of New York for a long-term loan. 

The library in Medora, North Dakota is scheduled to open in 2026.

Vicki Been, New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, said in a statement, “We are grateful to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library for proposing a fitting new home for the Equestrian Statue.”

“This long-term loan would allow an important part of the City’s art collection to be appropriately contextualized, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Library on next steps,” she said.

The statue was created in 1929 following a commission from the Board of Trustees of the New York State Roosevelt Memorial. It has stood at the entrance to the Museum of Natural History since 1940. Theodore Roosevelt Sr. was one of the museum’s founders. Roosevelt’s birthplace, at 28 East 20th Street, New York City, is classified as a National Historic Site.

James Earl Fraser, the sculptor, intended the statue to reflect Roosevelt’s experience as a naturalist. 

Calls for its removal stemmed from concerns about the racial implications of the statue.

Roosevelt is depicted riding on horseback between a Native American and a black man. Critics have said this indicates a racial hierarchy because the nation’s 26th president is higher than the other men.

The movement for its removal reached its peak in 2020 following a summer of increased racial tensions following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

“Over the last few weeks, our Museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd. We also have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues and monuments as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism,” the museum said in a statement released on June 21, 2020.

“While the Statue is owned by the City, the Museum recognizes the importance of taking a position at this time. We believe that the Statue should no longer remain and have requested that it be moved.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio supported its removal, saying the piece was a “problematic statue.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library’s board said in a statement that it “believes the Equestrian Statue is problematic in its composition.” 

“The agreement with the City allows the TR Library to relocate the statue for storage while considering a display that would enable it to serve as an important tool to study the nation’s past,” it said.

The TR Library plans to establish an Advisory Council with representatives of the Indigenous Tribal and Black communities in addition to historians, scholars, and artists who will “guide the recontextualization of the statue.”

“Museums are supposed to do hard things,” said Edward F. O’Keefe, chief executive officer of Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. “It is said that ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,’ and our job is to forthrightly examine history to understand the present and make a better future.”

Following the summer of 2020, statues of notable figures in American history were removed from public display or destroyed by protestors. Richmond, Virginia removed a 12-ton statue of General Robert E. Lee in September. Charleston removed a statue of America’s seventh vice president, John C. Calhoun, because of his legacy as a defender of slavery. Other cities, including Jacksonville, Florida, have yet to determine what they will do with their Confederate statues.

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6 responses to “Theodore Roosevelt Statue Moved From New York to North Dakota”

  1. AbeVonDoom says:

    My city is a joke, give it to someone who will appreciate it. I’ve always been a fan of Teddy Roosevelt as a character, he did plenty of questionable things but so did every other leader in history. This is a damn shame but honestly at this point this city doesn’t deserve any of its recognition anymore. Loan all the statues in the city out to other states where people actually care about their history. Let New York recede away from prominence, maybe my rent will go down one day lol

  2. ChetF says:

    i say move them before they wreck them. New York had it’s time as a figurehead of our country. It’s best true patriots salvage what cultural artifacts they can and move on before the City falls into it’s post apocalyptic future.

  3. ChetF says:

    Well said

  4. dannyo66 says:

    The museum has been a bit of a controversy here in North Dakota.
    Originally, Medora was going to get the Theodore Roosevelt Museum, and Dickinson, about 30 miles east of Medora, was supposed to get the Presidential Library. The site it was going to be built on was the location of the local Universities Rodeo practice arena. It got torn down and moved to a new location, and the site was completely prepped to start building, and a new sign announcing the future home of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library was erected on the property….Then they decided to put the Library in Medora. More than a few people were upset about it.
    Anyway, that was a couple years ago now, and the site is still sitting empty, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with it.

    We will gladly take the statue and will have it proudly displayed at the Museum in Medora.

  5. prcntm says:

    Edward O’Keefe,

    I will admit, a fair number of statues depicting Confederate generals were constructed suspiciously close to times when civil rights movements were in full swing, making the argument that many statues around the United States are designed to elicit fear in minority communities a defensible position. However, If you start looking at EVERY statue with the intent to find racism, you’re gonna find racism. Art is inherently subjective. You can pull whatever meaning you want from it. That’s the point. You are not learning from history if you are actively trying to repeat the worst parts of it. It is just as likely that the original artist sought to honor Theodore Roosevelt, but wanted also to honor those minorities that made this country what it is today.

    Move the statue if you want. I really can’t think of a better place for a statue of Theodore Roosevelt than a museum for Theodore Roosevelt. But, there was absolutely no reason to make the primary reason for the move racial. That was an active choice on the part of those involved.

  6. neilinda says:

    Guess big parts of the movie won’t make sense anymore… that is if we can still watch that movie.