Monuments

How should art memorialise history? Since antiquity, this question has been central to the commissioning strategies of those in power and those who shape culture. History has never been as static as the monuments that seek to serve it; new rulers and fresh generations will inevitably cast history in their own mould. Thus, in the 1990s, after the Soviet Union fell, Socialist Realist sculptures and statues of Communist leaders were discarded as symbols of the oppressive regime that had been overthrown. Today, statues dedicated to Confederate leaders in the US, or controversial colonialist figures in Europe, have become the target of angry protests around the world. As the conversations around monuments continue to develop, we are collecting stories from past issues up to the present day that examine the complicated issues surrounding such works.

News
Confederate monuments

The war over racist monuments is escalating throughout the US

The disposal of Confederate monuments will not erase America’s history, but some say removing them from public view is crucial to moving forward

Comment
Museums & Heritage

US needs monuments celebrating African American history, not Confederate statues

Telling America’s overlooked stories is fundamental to building a true national identity, says preservationist Brent Leggs

Podcast

What to do about problematic statues?

Plus, Hew Locke on Agostino Brunias's Dancing Scene in the West Indies. Produced in association with Christie's

News
Monuments

Tribal leaders and organisations call for the removal of Mount Rushmore monument

Leaders argue that Trump's plan for a rally there is an "unforgivable affront"

Archive
September 1999

A wound still festering at the heart of Germany

Parliament has finally voted to build Berlin's memorial to the Holocaust

Archive
March 2008

Why the US military's proposal to dispose of Saddam Hussein’s Victory Monument is misguided

They represent good and bad aspects of Iraq’s modern history and cannot simply be obliterated

Comment
Social history

Statues are part of history, but do a poor job of recording it

Monuments tell us more about those who set them up than those they represent, says Classics professor Matthew Sears

Latest in Monuments and their histories

Diary of an art historian

'When the politics change, so must the statues'

May 2015

Drowned, beheaded and restored: Napoleon statue returns to museum after 282 days in exile

March 2015

Turkish president appeals ruling that he must pay damages to artist

October 2014

Lenin’s head to come in from the Berlin cold

November 2013

Tate finds 370-year-old bullet hole in Charles I statue

December 2012

Eisenhower's heirs attack Gehry’s plans for memorial to the late US president

March 2012

Memorials to Norway massacre victims prove divisive

March 2008

Why the US military's proposal to dispose of Saddam Hussein’s Victory Monument is misguided

March 2008

Two new Holocaust memorials for Berlin

May 2007

Selection of Chinese sculptor to create Martin Luther King memorial angers black artists

June 2004

18th-century statue of St James removed from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

May 2004

The US finally unveils its Second World War memorial

February 2003

Memorials multiply in the US

July 2000

Somebody loves Lenin in Finland

September 1999

A wound still festering at the heart of Germany

May 1999

Richard Meier to obliterate Mussolini’s mark

December 1998

Action urgently needed to save Brancusi’s Endless Column

November 1997

Italy will return Axum obelisk to Ethiopia

May 1993

What to do with your Socialist-Realist art

February 1992

“We buy figureheads, busts, portraits, banners—at high prices”

March 1991

How Saddam Hussein's ideology was enshrined in his art commissions

December 1990

Penalties for defacing monuments to Communism are being debated in the Soviet parliament

Archive
December 1990

Penalties for defacing monuments to Communism are being debated in the Soviet parliament

Are these acts a citizens’ protest against the situation in which the country now finds itself, or are they merely vandalism?

Comment
Diary of an art historian

People see only 'silver tits' and 'bouffant pubes' now—but I predict Mary Wollstonecraft sculpture will become widely admired

One of the iron rules of art history is that the more derided a work of art at first, the more celebrated it will become

News
Public sculpture

Twitter explodes with debate around long-awaited statue of feminist trailblazer Mary Wollstonecraft

Sculpture by Maggi Hambling is the result of a decade-long campaign to honour the 18th-century women's rights advocate

News
Memorials

In honour of Armistice Day, more than 100 English war memorials listed as sites of historical importance

Monuments commemorating the First and Second World Wars—mostly built in small towns and villages—are added to Historic England's list of protected places

News
Monuments

Mellon Foundation announces $250m grant to 'reimagine and rebuild' US monuments and memorials

Amid increased unrest over memorials since the Black Lives Matter protests erupted, the grant will help fund new storytelling spaces across the country

News
Monuments

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be memorialised with statue in Brooklyn

Governor Andrew Cuomo has suggested a site for the monument of the Supreme Court justice, overlooking the Statue of Liberty

News
Monuments

Having weathered protests, controversial Confederate statue is felled by hurricane

Officials voted recently to keep the monument on courthouse property in Lake Charles, Louisiana, but Hurricane Laura made an executive decision

News
Monuments

The complicated history of the first monument to Sacajawea, funded by suffragists and designed by a woman

The Indigenous guide who helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition across America’s western territories was later celebrated by the women’s vote movement—but her story was never fully told

News
Museums & Heritage

Debate flares as British Museum moves bust of slave-owning founder Hans Sloane

As part of the museum's efforts to address Britain’s colonial past, officials acknowledge that the collector "exploited slaves"

Analysis
Looting

How recent anti-racism protests have pushed a longstanding debate about colonial looting in Europe

As the Black Lives Matter movement goes global, museums face renewed demands to restitute artefacts plundered from Africa

News
Monuments

As monuments to Christopher Columbus come down across the US, Italian-Americans campaign to protect a symbol of 'culture heritage'

Some Italian-Americans, including the New York governor Andrew Cuomo, say statues of Columbus symbolise the history of Italians in the US

News
Protest art

Artist Chen Weiming to create a monument to Hong Kong protests in California's Mojave Desert

As US levies toughest sanction yet on China for its destruction of Hong Kong’s relatively free political system, Weiming says he wants to pay tribute to the "people's fight for freedom"

Analysis
Monuments

So we’re bringing down statues—but what kind of monuments would we like to see instead?

Perhaps the time has come to remove the plinth and stop celebrating individual heroes

Comment
Monuments

The problem with Marc Quinn's Black Lives Matter sculpture

Racism runs far deeper than representation, says the artist Thomas J. Price

News
Monuments

Marc Quinn's Black Lives Matter sculpture removed by Bristol council

Statue that replaced toppled monument to slave trader Edward Colston has polarised opinion

Comment
Diary of an art historian

'When the politics change, so must the statues'

History can teach us a lot about how to—and how not to—deal with problematic historic monuments

News
Monuments

Marc Quinn sculpture of Black Lives Matter activist replaces statue to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol

Installed overnight, the work depicts local resident Jen Reid who was photographed on the site when the monument was toppled last month

Comment
Photography

Photographs are the monuments of our online visual culture

But which ones will ascend to a more permanent station in today’s social imagination?

News
Monuments

What to do with all those toppled monuments? Artist suggests turning Chicago dump site into sculpture park

The conceptual artist JB Daniel has offered a location for America’s unwanted statues in an industrial wasteland bounded by the Calumet River

News
Monuments

Signed, sealed, delivered: new monument honours couriers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic

Unveiled in a business centre in Moscow, the statue by contemporary artist Alexey Garikovich was commissioned by top Russian e-commerce and foodtech companies

News
Monuments

Russian art collector Andrei Filatov offers to buy America’s problematic statues

His Art Russe Foundation has made offers to preserve monuments of Theodore Roosevelt and Alexander Baranov that have been the target of protesters in the US

News
Monuments

Controversial Roosevelt statue will be removed from entrance to New York’s American Museum of Natural History

The former president’s great-grandson supports the removal of “relics of another age”

News
Protests

National Trust for Historic Preservation supports removal of Confederate statues that glorify white power

Trust says such monuments “do not reflect, and are in fact abhorrent to, our values”

News
Monuments

Riga installs six-metre statue to honour medical workers

Sculpture by Latvian artist Aigars Bikse is in a prominent spot in front of the National Museum of Art

News
Monuments

Museum world rallies behind curator investigated for tweets on how to damage bronze statues

UK arts professionals express support for Madeline Odent whose comments prompted a backlash on Twitter

News
Monuments

Artist of African descent must create France's new slavery memorial, campaign group says

Culture ministry launches open call for monument that will be sited near the Musée du Louvre

News
Banksy

Banksy proposes new Bristol memorial of protesters toppling slave trader statue

Street artist says the idea would cater both to critics and defenders of the monument of Edward Colston

News
Monuments

Campaign launched by teenager to remove statues of Congo coloniser Leopold II gains pace in Belgium

Monuments of the king were targeted by anti-racism protestors last weekend

News
Monuments

Statues of slavers around London could be pulled down under mayor’s new diversity plan

Sadiq Khan wants to review and improve "the diversity of public landmarks" after protestors toppled the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol

Comment
colonialism

Edward Colston monument: 'UK must face the truth of what helped it become a mighty power'

Once it is fished out of the water in Bristol, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston should go in a museum. But what kind of a museum?, asks writer Bonnie Greer

News
Monuments

Protesters topple monument to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol—mayor wants to place it in a museum

Controversial statue was dismantled and thrown into the harbour during a Black Lives Matter rally

News
Confederate monuments

Virginia vows to remove monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee amid ongoing anti-racism protests

Governor says that the state will "no longer preach a false version of history" as calls for racial justice echo across the nation

News
Protests

Monuments across the US are toppled, damaged as protests over George Floyd's death continue

Lawmakers mobilise the National Guard to quell destruction while demonstrators deface Confederate memorials and public works emblematic of white supremacy

News
Public art

Sculpture confronting Germany's colonial past installed at Berlin’s long-awaited Humboldt Forum

Kang Sunkoo’s bronze Statue of Limitations shows a black flag at half-mast

News
Controversies

'Intrusive addition': Antony Gormley’s memorial to mathematician Alan Turing draws fire

Some critics support the proposed sculpture for Cambridge University while others question the competition process

News
Michael Rakowitz

Iraqi-US artist Michael Rakowitz's new anti-war monument in Margate points accusing finger at UK government

Seafront commission, which references the invasion of Iraq in 2003, is part of England’s Creative Coast: Waterfronts initiative

News
Public art

As debate rages around controversial US monuments, New York park invites artists to make their own

The year-long programme Monuments Now at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens aims to evaluate ideas around public art

News
Public art

'We must stop memorialising such a dark part of our history': official stance on Confederate monuments is shifting

Memorials honouring controversial generals continue to stir debate in many Southern states, but lawmakers are finding creative ways to deal with them

Feature
Art Basel in Miami Beach 2019

Memorialising an American tragedy

Survivors, artists and lawmakers debate if public memorials to mass shootings in the US hurt more than they help

Interview
Exhibitions

‘Public art is propaganda, frankly’: Hank Willis Thomas discusses gun violence and the urgent need for alternative memorials

A host of the artist’s exhibitions and public projects open in various locations across the US open this year

News
Monuments

Orlando chooses its memorial to Pulse shooting victims

More than three years after the massacre, a winning design has been selected for a $45m museum and memorial campus, but some survivors and victims’ families would rather it stay unbuilt.

News
Public art

New York opens applications for two new monuments honouring black history

The city forges ahead with its campaign to build new memorials, as public officials face pressure to reform selections process

Review
Exhibitions

The Empire strikes back? Kara Walker's fountain makes a splash at Tate

US artist takes on British Empire’s legacy and the Transatlantic salve trade in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall

News
Monuments

Designs for new D-Day monument in Normandy will go on sale at Masterpiece

David Williams-Ellis' sculpture for the British Normandy Memorial will be unveiled today by May and Macron

Blog
In the frame

Rise up: new monument to honour Stonewall heroines Marsha and Sylvia

News
Monuments

Virginia judge rules that two Confederate statues in Charlottesville are war memorials

City Council members seeking to remove them argued that they were actually monuments to white supremacy

News
Monuments

Erdogan says museum and former cathedral Hagia Sophia will become a mosque again

The Turkish president wants the monument to serve as a place of worship flouting international pressure to retain the site’s current neutral status

News
In the frame

New York to build monuments to four more female trailblazers

Honourees range from Billie Holiday to a pioneer in public health

News
Ethics

University of North Carolina rejects plan for museum to house toppled Confederate statue

UNC Chapel Hill seeks another solution to preserve Silent Sam, described as a “monument to white supremacy”

News
Art Basel in Miami Beach

Doris Salcedo's army of women reshape the meaning of guerrilla weapons

Some of the 15,000 women who were raped or sexually assaulted during the 53-year war in Colombia are telling their stories through a new memorial

News
Monuments

First She Built NYC monument to honour Shirley Chisholm

A statue of the “unbought and unbossed” first black US congresswoman is to be unveiled in Prospect Park in 2020

News
Monuments

Kant monument splashed with pink paint in Kaliningrad

Defacement may be politically motivated as nationalists see the veneration of the German figure as unpatriotic

News
Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning says watching students toppling Confederate monument was 'inspiring'

Speaking at an event organised by London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, the whistleblower said the statue's removal aligned with her own passion for 'direct action'

News
Social history

Canada struggles with monuments tied to colonialism

Echoing a conflict in the US, the nation contends with calls to remove controversial memorials

News
Public art

Public sculpture will commemorate Chattanooga lynching victim 100 years on

Memorial part of push for new works that challenge history of white supremacy in the US

News
Monuments

New York City to move one controversial monument, while others remain

A commission created to review “symbols of hate” on city property has decided most will stay put with signage added to explain their history, while new works will be created to honour underrepresented communities

Interview
Monuments

How the Vietnam Veterans Memorial went from an art battleground to a solemn destination

James Reston, the author of a book on the site’s history, talks to us about the power of monuments

Comment
Public art

‘The newly empty plinths are all potential Fourth Plinths’

The artist Hew Locke says a creative response to memorials dedicated to slave owners and empire builders can reveal hidden histories

News
Monuments

David Adjaye and Ron Arad unanimously selected to design UK Holocaust and Memorial Centre

Rachel Whiteread and Anish Kapoor also competed for the prestigious commission honouring victims of Nazi persecution

Feature
Politics

The sculptures that unite America

As the debate rages about divisive Confederate monuments, five leading US scholars and curators pick the nation’s greatest memorial sculptures

Interview
Frieze 2017

Kiluanji Kia Henda: The right way to fill a city’s plinths

The Frieze Artist Award winner brings an Angolan take on the public sculpture debate

News
Frieze 2017

Artists step up to the plate in statues debate

Colonial monuments and the US flag are subverted at Frieze London

News
Monuments

Canada’s first national Holocaust memorial opens in Ottawa

Daniel Libeskind-designed monument in concrete and metal has the shape of a distorted Star of David

News
Politics

Charlottesville riot hastens removal of Confederate monuments throughout the US

City and state governments around the country are looking at what to do with the controversial statues

News
Commissions

German parliament approves plan for unification memorial in Berlin

“Unity seesaw” is to be unveiled in 2019 in front of the city palace

News
Politics

Serbian political party slams decision to build Andy Warhol monument in Belgrade

Vice president of the Democratic Party of Serbia describes Pop art as a ‘fad’

News

Jeff Koons unveils plans for a memorial to the victims of the Paris terror attacks

But funding still needs to be found for Bouquet of Tulips, which is modelled on the Statue of Liberty

News
Monuments

Lenin’s four-tonne head goes on show in Medieval Berlin Fortress

Monument of communist revolutionary was dug up for new permanent exhibition on statues of past political leaders

News

US presidents and Taiwan back Eisenhower Memorial

Frank Gehry revises controversial design but the family of the soldier and statesman remains unimpressed

News
Monuments

New Orleans mayor moves to make sure the South will not rise again

Artists could subvert statues of Confederate heroes, assuming Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and others stay put on their plinths

Archive
May 2015

Drowned, beheaded and restored: Napoleon statue returns to museum after 282 days in exile

Conservation treatment may resolve conflicting accounts of monument's history

Archive
March 2015

Turkish president appeals ruling that he must pay damages to artist

Mehmet Aksoy's Monument to Humanity was razed by local council after Recep Tayyip Erdogan called it a "monstrosity"

Archive
October 2014

Lenin’s head to come in from the Berlin cold

The statue stood in Lenin Square until 1990, when it was cut into 129 pieces and buried in the woods

Archive
November 2013

Tate finds 370-year-old bullet hole in Charles I statue

The sculpture was famously attacked by Parliamentarians shortly after the outbreak of the English Civil War

Archive
December 2012

Eisenhower's heirs attack Gehry’s plans for memorial to the late US president

The family is objecting to the "extravagant" scheme

Archive
March 2012

Memorials to Norway massacre victims prove divisive

Artist Nico Widerberg’s sculptures welcomed by many, but the way an anonymous donor is funding them upsets others

Archive
March 2008

Two new Holocaust memorials for Berlin

Parliament approves final budgets for monuments to homosexuals and Roma and Sinti people murdered by the Nazis

Archive
May 2007

Selection of Chinese sculptor to create Martin Luther King memorial angers black artists

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition to appoint an African American architect and artist for the monument

Archive
February 2003

Memorials multiply in the US

We take stock of the mania for commemoration that has overtaken New York and Washington, DC

Archive
July 2000

Somebody loves Lenin in Finland

Public outcry scuppered Helsinki officials' plan to buy granite bust of the Communist leader

Archive
May 1999

Richard Meier to obliterate Mussolini’s mark

The US architect's new building for ancient Roman monument to replace one commissioned by the Fascist dictator in the 1930s

Archive
November 1997

Italy will return Axum obelisk to Ethiopia

The act is part of a considerable effort to erase Mussolini’s mark on the nation

Archive
May 1993

What to do with your Socialist-Realist art

Budapest is creating a sculpture park for more than 45 works depicting Lenin, Marx and others

Archive
February 1992

“We buy figureheads, busts, portraits, banners—at high prices”

Moscow author amasses a collection of depictions of Lenin and Stalin before they are destroyed

Archive
March 1991

How Saddam Hussein's ideology was enshrined in his art commissions

New book "The Monument" explains why greater attention to the Iraqi director’s iconography might have illuminated Western politicians as to his ambitions