NEW YORK (AP) – An 1833 statue of Thomas Jefferson will be erected from New York City Hall and sent on long-term loan to the New York Historical Society after some city council members protested its presence because Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves.
The public design commission voted unanimously on Monday to remove the statue from City Hall at City Hall. Instead, it will be exhibited with context about Jefferson’s legacy in the historic community lobby for six months and in the library’s reading room after that, museum officials said.
The statue of the artist Pierre-Jean David d’Angers is a plaster model of the Jefferson statue in bronze in the Capitol rotunda of the US Congress.
Museum officials said in a statement that they would offer context on Jefferson’s “complicated legacy”, including “his contribution as the founder and draftsman of the Declaration of Independence and the contrast between his vision of human equality and his ownership of enslaved people.” It will be accessible to the public without admission at both locations, they said.
The public design commission was ready to vote to move the statue to the New York Historical Society at its meeting last month, but critics of the plan said it would set a bad precedent for sending a city-owned work of art to a private museum. However, the Commission approved the long-term loan with some discussion on Monday.
The statue was donated to the city in 1834 by Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore of the U.S. Navy, who commissioned the statue to honor Jefferson’s commitment to religious freedom.
The statue has stood in the room where the city council meets.
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