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SXSW 2021

Addressing the Statue: Museums, Monuments, & Race

What is the meaning of a statue? What do our monuments celebrate, and how do we confront the legacies of racial injustice that are propagated by public art? This session explores how the American Museum of Natural History addressed the controversial equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt accompanied by a Native man and an African man that sits on its front steps (and is now slated for removal) through conversations, film, and an exhibition. The Museum’s approaches to rethinking cultural representation serve as a springboard to discuss how cultural institutions and communities are reevaluating public monuments across the country.

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  1. Explore how to engage and share diverse and opposing community and expert voices in addressing a problematic historical monument
  2. Investigate how to approach problematic histories with nuance and through a diversity of modalities
  3. Discover different frameworks and approaches institutions and communities are using to reevaluate and reconsider historical monuments


  • Reniqua Allen-Lamphere, Filmmaker, Journalist, Independent
  • Monique Scott, Director of Museum Studies, Bryn Mawr College
  • Lauri Halderman, Vice President for Exhibitions, American Museum of Natural History
  • Mabel O. Wilson, Nancy and George Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, a Professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies, and the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), Columbia University


Bella Desai, Director, Public Programs and Exhibition Education, American Museum of Natural History

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