The Museum of the City of New York issued a statement today calling for the removal of a statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims in East Harlem. The statement comes after neighborhood residents, protestors, and officials have made similar demands for the work’s removal, citing Sims’s experiments on enslaved black women without the use of anesthesia.
The statue is currently on view near 103rd Street and 5th Avenue, in close proximity to the Museum of the City of New York. First dedicated in 1894, the work commemorates Sims, who created a surgery that has prevented deaths resulting from complications during childbirth and is sometimes referred to as the founder of modern gynecology. Some have been calling for the removal of the work for years.
With New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration currently reviewing the city’s monuments in an attempt to remove any “symbols of hate,” the Sims statue’s removal is possible. Statues devoted to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee in the Bronx and Brooklyn, respectively, have already been taken away from their original sites.
The Museum of the City of New York’s statement follows in full below.
The Museum of the City of New York praises Mayor de Blasio for initiating a 90-day review of ‘symbols of hate on New York City property’ and we join the East Harlem community in asking that the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims be included in this review. We are in agreement with City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, our local elected officials, Community Board 11, and other members of our community that there is a compelling argument to be made for the statue’s removal as a symbol of unethical racist medical practice. The Museum of the City of New York supports the removal of the statue on this basis.