NYC commission votes to move Thomas Jefferson statue to New-York Historical Society

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Monday, November 15, 2021
NYC panel votes to move Jefferson statue to NY Historical Society
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A commission voted unanimously to approve the long term loan of the Thomas Jefferson statue at City Hall to the New-York Historical Society.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve the long term loan of the controversial Thomas Jefferson statue in the Council Chambers at City Hall to the New-York Historical Society.

There was unanimous agreement last month to move the 7-foot-tall statue, which has stood in the chambers for more than a century, but not on where it should go.

Community leaders have been trying to remove the Jefferson statue for decades, and the latest battle came during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in June 2020, after City Council sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for the statue's removal since Jefferson was a slave owner.

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Still, there was a desire for the public to continue to have access to the historic art piece.

"That statue can no longer exist in those chambers," Councilman Daneek Miller said. "To have it looming over you as I've said in the past it was psychological warfare that exists to have him in the room of the people's house."

Councilman Daneek Miller, co-chairs the Black, Latino and Asian caucus and had called for the removal of the statue. But it was ultimately up to the Public Design Commission to figure out where to put it.

The New-York Historical Society had been on the table, but some wanted to explore other alternatives.

"It was a gift to the city by a Jewish naval officer in honor of Jefferson's position on religious freedom," historian Todd Fine said. "It should stay in the building."

Some commission members were concerned with putting it at the New-York Historical Society because it is privately run and charges a $22 admission fee for adults.

They wanted it to be at a location that is free for entry, like another part of City Hall.

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However, it appeared the Historical Society's "pay-as-you-wish" admission policy on Friday evenings assuaged their concerns.

The commission also made the case that the work will be part of educational programs there.

Once moved, the statue will be displayed in the museum's first-floor lobby for approximately six months before ultimately being placed in a corner of a reading room.


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