Mellon basis pledges $250m to ‘reimagine’ US monuments

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A city worker inspects the beheaded statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston

One of America’s largest philanthropic organizations has announced a project to redefine public monuments across the country.

The Andrew W Mellon Foundation said it would spend $ 250 million (£ 193 million) over five years to build monuments, add to existing ones, and relocate others.

The project aims to “celebrate and reaffirm the diverse stories of America”.

It takes place amid a heated public debate over monuments in the United States sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The charity said its promise was the result of “years of discussion, research, and intellectual exploration”.

  • The stories behind the statues are aimed at protests
  • Columbus and Confederate statues demolished in the US

Mellon has already spent $ 25 million on monument-related projects over the past two years. One of his grants raised $ 5 million to the National Peace and Justice Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to enslaved people and lynch victims.

“The nice thing about monuments as a rubric is that you really ask, ‘How do we say who we are? How do we teach our history in public places?'” Elizabeth Alexander, the foundation’s president, told New York Times.

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BLM – Black Lives Matter – was spray-painted on a Columbus statue in Miami this year

“We want to ask how we can think about how we can give shape to the beautiful, extraordinary and powerful variety of American stories,” she added.

The foundation said it would work not only on monuments, statues and markings, but also on “narrative rooms” like museums and art installations.

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The first $ 4 million grant will go to Monument Lab, a Philadelphia public art and history studio that, according to its website, “reinterprets public spaces through stories about social justice and justice.”

Dozens of statues were demolished and destroyed during protests in America earlier this year as pressure mounts on authorities to remove monuments linked to slavery and colonialism. Among the target groups are monuments to the Confederate leaders and the explorer Christopher Columbus.

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