Criteria, procedures released for evaluating Louisville's public monuments

Criteria, procedures released for evaluating Louisville's public monuments
The Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle has been vandalized several times within the past five years.
The committee held several meetings to get input from the public. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The committee held several meetings to get input from the public. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro Public Arts and Monuments Advisory Committee submitted its final report to the Mayor on Saturday, which set forth a set of principles and criteria for evaluating existing public monuments and art in Louisville.

Mayor Fischer ordered a review of public art in August of last year following the controversy surrounding the John Breckenridge Castleman Monument in Cherokee Park after it was vandalized. The monument of Castleman, who was a Confederate soldier, has been vandalized numerous times, most recently in April.

Although the report comes just two months after the Castleman statue was vandalized, the committee chose not to address the current controversy in the report. Instead, the committee chose to focus on the group's core purpose, developing a set of principles and criteria for public art, a letter from the committee to the mayor said.

Criteria for removing a monument -- as well as for installing a new monument – must be rigorous, the report said. The report established criteria for removal, as well as criteria for evaluation when deciding the course of action on a controversial monument.

Principles for evaluation were also part of the committee's findings.

The first principle listed, "Monuments are not history," noted that while monuments in public spaces "…reveal some parts of history and hide others…", the monuments are "…often part of our art historical record and the city does have an obligation to preserve that record when possible, although not necessarily in a public right-of-way or civic space."

The principles and guidelines set forth remarked that while the monument landscape of the city reflects the history of making monuments, that landscape does not necessarily reflect the full history of Louisville. The committee recommended rectifying that disparity.

Other guiding principles on Louisville's public monuments and art included the importance of accessibility and how monuments must reflect the composition and demographics of the city as a whole.

Public input, which the committee reviewed and considered before issuing its process and findings, garnered over 1400 comments via online forms, emails, postcards and sign-in sheets, the report said.

Read the final report from the Public Arts and Monuments Advisory Committee in its entirety here.

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