The statue at the Central Park West entrance depicts Roosevelt on a horse flanked by racist caricatures of Indigenous people on foot walking alongside him.
“The statue has long been controversial because of the hierarchical composition that places one figure on horseback and the others walking alongside,” the museum said in a statement. “Many of us find its depictions of the Native American and African figures and their placement in the monument racist.”
Even many of Roosevelt’s supporters agreed.
Theodore Roosevelt IV, a great-grandson of the former president and museum trustee, told The New York Times he was fine with the removal.
“The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy,” he said in a statement to the newspaper. “It is time to move the statue and move forward.”
The Roosevelt family has a long history of ties to the museum, and the museum has named a rotunda and hall for the former president, among other things.
“Roosevelt’s father was one of the museum’s founders, and the museum is proud of its historic association with the Roosevelt family,” the museum said.
The statue is owned by the city of New York, which the Times said has agreed to remove it.
Actor Ben Stiller, perhaps at least half-joking, offered an idea for a replacement:
Stiller and Williams starred in the “Night at the Museum” films, where museum objects come to life at night ― including a figure of Roosevelt memorably portrayed by the late comic icon.
Williams died by suicide after filming on the third and final installment of the franchise was completed, but before it was released.