Upturned statue of a slave trader on display at the Bristol Museum

An overturned statue of a slave trader in Bristol has been on display in a museum, sparking controversy in the art community.

The statue in question belonged to Edouard Colston, a 17th century merchant involved in the transatlantic slave trade. The statue of Colston was placed in 1895 in Bristol, UK. However, last year the statue was toppled and dumped in the nearby harbor during Black Lives Matter protests by local residents.

The overthrow of the statue last year

Currently the museum is exhibited in the M hangar museum, which brings together artefacts linked to the history of Bristol. The statue is displayed elongated, with a plaque that contains the timeline of events before and after its overthrow. There is also a plaque that says “Here, during global protests against racism, a statue celebrating 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbor by the people of Bristol.Another plaque reads lines from the poet Vanessa Kisuule.

However, another player in the controversy is a group called Save our statutes, who tries to restore the statue to its original location. The group reportedly bought tickets in bulk for the M Shed Museum to prevent people from seeing the statue during the exhibit. The group released a statement on Twitter on Monday, saying they are arguing for “due process” and oppose “crowd rule”.

The statue’s initial toppling elicited a largely positive response from the artistic community, with many calling the law’s existence “problematic.” Shortly after the overthrow, another statue was put in its place. It starred a young protester and was directed by artist Marc Quinn. However, it was removed within 24 hours as the statue was placed in a public place without permission from the city.

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