A toppled slave trader statue in Bristol has been put on a museum display, sparking controversy in the art community.
The statue in question belonged to Edward Colston, a 17th-century merchant who was involved in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The statue of Colston was placed in 1895 in Bristol, UK. However, last year, the statue was toppled and thrown in the nearby harbor during the Black Lives Matter protests by local residents.
Currently, the museum is at display in the M Shed museum, which collects artifacts related to Bristol’s history. The statue is displayed as lying down, with a plaque that contains the timeline of the events before and after its toppling. There is also a plaque that reads “At this spot, during worldwide anti-racism protests, a statue celebrating the 17th-century slave-trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbor by the people of Bristol.” Another plaque reads lines from the poet Vanessa Kisuule.
However, another player in the controversy is a group called Save Our Statutes, which is trying to restore the statue back to its original spot. Reportedly, the group has been buying bulk tickets to the M Shed museum in order to avoid people from viewing the statue at the display. The group posted a statement on Twitter on Monday, claiming that they are advocating for “due process” and stand against “mob rule”.
The initial toppling of the statue was met with a largely positive response from the art community, with many calling the existence of the statute “problematic”. Soon after the toppling, another statue was put in its place. It featured a young female protestor and was made by artist Marc Quinn. However, it was removed within 24hours as the statue was placed in a public place without the city’s permission.