Updated following RACC Board Action 9/29/2021
What is the status of statues that were removed or toppled in 2020 protests?
The statues from the City of Portland’s public art collection are secured in a temporary storage facility. This includes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider, Harvey Scott, Promised Land and Elk.
Will these statues be returned to their former locations?
RACC’s Public Art Committee (PAC) oversees and guides Public Art Program policies for the selection, placement, and maintenance of works of art acquired through the Percent for Art Program and other public/private programs RACC manages. On Wednesday, Sept. 29 the RACC Board endorsed the Public Art Committee’s recommendation not to return these statues to their previous locations (excluding the Elk) and to notify City officials of the recommendation. The recommendation is consistent with recent action by the Portland City Council recommending new public art representing more diverse cultural identities and histories for the South Park Blocks. The George Washington statue will not return to its former site as that site is privately owned and the owners do not wish to have it in that location anymore.
What happens next?
RACC’s recommendation to the City Council sets in motion a process for considering next steps. Should the monuments be assigned a new home? Should all of them remain in the public collection? According to RACC’s Public Art Program policies, consideration of these questions requires meaningful community engagement. Each of these statues has its own unique story and engagement may vary depending on the stakeholders.
What about the Elk statue?
City officials have determined separately that the Elk will return to downtown Portland. The project details, budget and timeline are being developed.
RACC’s Public Art Committee revised policies regarding the donation and removal (deaccession) of art from the public collection. What were the major changes?
The committee, in consultation with city leadership, reviewed the Public Art Program policies and criteria as they relate to donation and deaccession (removal) of memorials, monuments, and statues. The PAC updated those policies to align with RACC’s mission, vision, and values and the City’s value of antiracism. The updated policy states that public artworks can be removed if the “subject or impact of an artwork is significantly at odds with values of antiracism, equity, inclusion.” They also expanded circumstances that can lead to the removal of a piece of artwork, if it becomes a rallying place for “gatherings centered on racist or bigoted ideology.” RACC’s board endorsed these changes in May 2021.
What happens to a statue if a determination is made to remove it from the public art collection?
If a decision is made to “deaccession” an artwork (remove it from the collection), it could be traded or sold, returned to the donors, recycled or destroyed.
How can the community get involved?
Community engagement and stakeholder input is required as part of the process. Follow this link to be notified of engagement opportunities and provide input.