Controversial Sculpture Garden piece to be dismantled and burned

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Activists demanded the sculpture's removal. Ashley Fairbanks

After closing for two years, 19 new sculptures have arrived in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

One of those pieces, Sam Durant's Scaffold, was met with outrage.

The playground-like installation was inspired by the gallows used to execute 38 Dakota men in Mankato in 1862, and two more at Fort Snelling in 1865

After a three-hour meeting this afternoon between Dakota spiritual and traditional Elders, representatives from the four federally recognized Dakota tribes, the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and Durant, it has been decided that the work, once planned to be a centerpiece to the newly designed Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, will be taken apart and burned.

"The artist Sam Durant has committed to never create the Dakota gallows again," a release states. "He commits to transferring the intellectual property rights of this work to the Dakota Oyate (people)."

The piece will be dismantled over a period of four days by a Native construction company, who are donating their services to the effort. Before that happens, there will be a ceremony in the Garden on Friday, June 2, starting at 2 p.m. led by the Dakota spiritual leaders and Elders.

From there, the wood from the piece will be taken to the Fort Snelling area, where the hanged men were once imprisoned, to be ceremonially burned.

The Sculpture Garden, which had been scheduled to reopen this weekend with tours, live music, and family activities, has been postponed until June 10. In the meantime, the protest signs displayed along the park fence will remain there until the fence is removed. 


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