Our Public History: Statues & Monuments

The combined forces of a global pandemic, public discussions about race and social justice in a democracy as open, free and dynamic as the United States, has prompted important discussions about of how our collective, shared and varied history is expressed in public spaces. In a country of diverse religious, racial, cultural and countless other definitions of community, how do we make room for understanding?

Initially featuring how larger organizations are addressing the issues, we are in the process of adding local examples and a range of local voices to the emerging discussion here.

How are others handling the issue?

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Elizabeth Alexander, David Blight, Brent Staples, and Natasha Trethewey discuss the power of monuments and memorials – from their dominant influence on national storytelling to the undeniable sway they hold over which voices are forgotten, elided, or even silenced.

Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History in New York City has created an exhibition called Addressing the Statue. The video at the right, “The Meaning of a Monument” which represents a range of views is indicative of the variety one finds when the whole public is involved.

The New Monuments American Needs

Published by the New Yorker in September 2020.