Walker Art Center Delays Opening of Sculpture Garden Following Controversy


Protesters gathered outside the construction of a sculpture by Sam Durant at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on Saturday.

David Joles/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

The Walker Art Center has delayed the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by a week as the museum’s executives plan the removal of a sculpture that has provoked a public outcry.

The work, “Scaffold,” by Sam Durant, is a two-story structure that aims to evoke gallows and public executions throughout United States history. It is a composite representation of seven gallows, including those used to execute John Brown and Saddam Hussein, as well as the Dakota 38, who were executed in Mankato, Minn., at the end of the United States-Dakota War of 1862.

Members of the Dakota community in Minnesota protested the work, however, saying it brought back painful memories and trivialized the executions. According to The StarTribune, about 100 protesters gathered at the site on Saturday to demand the work’s removal.

Mr. Durant and executives from the Walker Art Center have agreed to remove the sculpture from the garden, and they will meet with the Dakota elders on Wednesday to discuss the best course of action. “I am in agreement with the artist that the best way to move forward is to have ‘Scaffold’ dismantled in some manner and to listen and learn from the Elders,” Olga Viso, executive director of the Walker Art Center, said in a statement. “This is the first step in a long process of healing.”

The opening date of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has been pushed back from June 3 to June 10, putting a damper on what was supposed to be the grand opening of an ambitious project several years in the works. The Walker Art Center announced a $75 million dollar renovation in 2015, with $10 million going toward the garden. More than a dozen…

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