The Thomas Jefferson Statue from 1833 will be relocated from City Hall in New York to the lobby of the New York Historical Society.
According to the Associated Press, the move is a long-term loan. According to the Gothamist, the decision was taken after several of the City Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian members opposed to the statue’s existence owing to Jefferson’s ownership of hundreds of slaves.
The Black, Latino, and Asian caucus stated in a statement that Jefferson is “no longer deserving of glorification in an era where the descendants of those they enslaved now wield the exact seats of authority derived from the institutions of government they built.”
The Public Design Commission agreed unanimously on Monday to remove the monument from City Hall’s City Council chambers. The monument will be displayed in the historical society’s foyer for six months, along with information about Jefferson’s legacy, before being relocated to the society’s library reading room.
According to the New York Times, the historical society’s president and chief executive, Louise Mirrer, the monument will be shown beginning in April and will coincide with an exhibition that examines the “main paradox of our fundamental principles.”
Last month, the commission was ready to vote on the move, but detractors warned it would set a poor example to send a city-owned work of art to a private institution.
According to the New York Times, the delay was caused by fears that the monument would not be openly accessible if put at the historical society, and members of the public spoke out against the plan in a virtual public hearing. The loan, however, was authorized with minimal debate.
The sculpture by artist Pierre-Jean David d’Angers is a plaster replica of the bronze Jefferson statue in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore of the United States Navy, donated the statue to the city in 1834 and commissioned it to memorialize Jefferson’s devotion to religious freedom.
The monument has stood in the meeting room of the City Council.
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