Just two weeks ago, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest humanities phil
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Just two weeks ago, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest humanities philanthropy in the United States, pledged to spend $250 million over five years to help reimagine the country’s approach to monuments and memorials, in an effort to better reflect the nation’s diversity and highlight buried or marginalized stories. The grant is in response to the new iconoclasm taking place this summer and fall. Protesters have vandalized, toppled, and advocated for the removal of statues of the leaders of the Confederacy in the United States, as well as colonialists, slave traders, and imperialists in the United Kingdom and Europe. The destruction of monuments is nothing new, occurring previously in the 8th and 9th centuries and again in the 16th century over the appropriate use of religious icons. The
controversies in these earlier periods focused on the dangers of confusing representations with the actual person or events they represented. The new iconoclasm focuses on the telling of national history and the larger meaning of public space.
For this assignment, read the assigned pdf:
Jonah Engel Bromwich “What Does It Mean to Tear Down a Statue?”
New York Times (June 24, 2020)
Robin Pogrebin “Roosevelt Statue to Be Removed from Museum of Natural History”
New York Times (June 21, 2020)
Jacey Fortin “Toppling Monuments, A Visual History”
New York Times (August 17, 2017)
Second, watch the video – Meaning of the Monument – accompanying the 2019
‘Addressing the Statue’ exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History regarding
the James Earle Fraser Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt standing in front of the
museum, and read the short exhibition highlights:
“What did the artists and planners intend?”
“How is the statue understood today?”
“Perspectives on the statue”
After reading the New York Times interview, watching the exhibition video
and reading the short exhibition highlights, please consider the following:
What is the controversy?
What were architect John Russell Pope and sculptor James Earle Fraser’s original
intentions? Seeing it now, should that matter?
What purpose do public monuments serve? What happens when they’re removed?
Parks, city steps and museum galleries are all public spaces. What changes if the
offending artwork is placed outside or inside?
What do you think: should problematic art be removed from public spaces?
The paper should be three (3) pages double-spaced with standard margins and fonts. Be
sure to write an introduction with a thesis statement (what will you be telling the reader)
and a ‘roadmap’ telling the viewer what your main points are that will follow to prove your
thesis. After the introduction give the body of evidence (clear discussion with specific
evidence for your points) and a conclusion. Use quotation marks and cite sources if you