City officials on Monday decided to move a controversial statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, “the father of modern gynecology,” from Central Park to the Brooklyn cemetery where he is buried.
The move comes at the recommendation of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, and a new work with eventually be commissioned for the site at Fifth Avenue and East 103rd St. A temporary sign will be placed at the site on Tuesday, when the statue will be moved to Green-Wood Cemetery.
Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed the 18-person panel, who recommended the statue's relocation to the Public Design Commission in January. The panel was created in August to review “all symbols of hate on city property” following the violence that broke out that month in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a protest by white supremacists against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
Sims, who founded the nation’s first hospital for women in New York City in 1855, has been celebrated as a pioneer in gynecology and surgery, but was found to have experimented on enslaved women without anesthesia.
Sims’ statue was the only controversial one under review whose future remained in question since last summer. All others, most notably the Christopher Columbus monument in Columbus Circle, have been spared from removal or relocation.
“The fate of the monument mustn’t hinge on whether some New Yorkers — like the city’s first lady — believe that Sims was a ‘bad’ person,” Michele H. Bogart, an art history professor at Stony Brook University told the Post.
However, Tom Finkelpearl, a commission co-chair, said relocating Sims’ statue to Green-Wood “is an important step toward making our public spaces more open, inclusive and welcoming to all.”