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After the Riot, What's the Future of Art in the Capitol?

Added 02-24-21 07:40:03pm EST - “Built largely by enslaved people, the building includes just one small object honoring their work.” - Nytimes.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Nytimes.com: “After the Riot, What’s the Future of Art in the Capitol?”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

In the culture wars that spilled over during President Donald Trump’s time in office, the most visible flash point was whether to preserve or destroy monuments depicting figures from America’s racist history.

The former president even went so far as to veto a military spending bill because it included a provision to rename bases commemorating Confederate officials. (Congress overrode the veto.)

But when a crowd of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, the riot actually ended up doing damage not only to the building itself, but also to some of the monuments and busts on display there, including those depicting Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, two presidents who owned enslaved Black people — the sorts of figures whose statues have been felled at recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Testifying today before a congressional subcommittee, Farar Elliott, the House curator and head of its Office of Art and Archives, said that six sculptures and two paintings had been damaged amid the violence last month, and she requested an additional appropriation of $25,000 to restore the objects. The damaged pieces include busts of four former House speakers, a bust of the Chippewa leader Be sheekee, a statue of Jefferson and portraits of Madison and John Quincy Adams. The damage was caused largely by chemical irritants released into the air, including bear repellents and pepper spray.

Beyond the immediate irony that Trump supporters, who were opposed to tearing down statues of Confederate leaders, damaged historical artwork in the country’s seat of power, the moment invites a few questions of its own: What monuments belong in the Capitol? And, if it’s worth extra federal dollars to restore damaged homages to slave owners like Jefferson and Madison, then is it also worth spending money to expand the collection?

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