A platform, which until earlier this week was used to showcase the Emancipation Group statue in Park Square, now sits empty, following Tuesday’s removal of the controversial sculpture that depicts a freed black slave crouching at the feet of Presidents Abraham Lincoln. The Boston Art Commission voted unanimously on June 30 to remove bronze figurative elements from the statue and, at that time, indicated that it would place the statue into temporary storage while initiating a process to “re-contextualize” the existing piece in a new publically accessible setting (e.g. a museum).
“Over the course of two public hearings that allowed hundreds of residents to express their feelings, and after taking into account the petition from local artist Tory Bullock that gained more than 12,000 signatures to remove the statue, we’re pleased to have taken it down this morning,” according to a statement released by the Boston Art Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. “As expressed by so many during the public process this year, we fully agree that the statue should be relocated to a new publicly accessible location where its history and context can be better explained.
The statue is being stored in a controlled storage facility in South Boston until a new location is determined.” The piece, which is a replica of a statue created by Charlestown native Thomas Ball in Washington, D.C., was a gift to the City of Boston from local politician Moses Kimball in 1879. It depicts President Lincoln with his right hand resting on the Emancipation Proclamation while his left hand is raised in a raised in a gesture of benediction above the crouched figure of Archer Alexander, who assisted the Union Army, escaped slavery and was recaptured under the Fugitive Slave Act.
An inscription on the front of the piece reads: “A race set free/ and the country at peace / Lincoln / Rests from his labors.” Meanwhile, Karin Goodfellow, director of the Art Commission, said in July that she expected the commission would be able to secure some funding from the city to install a new piece of public art at the Park Square location.