Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum MORE

The Meaning Behind Our Monuments

Across the country, protests and demonstrations persist in the wake of civil unrest. As many continue to work tirelessly to support the Black Lives Matter movement and demand justice, major cities are taking to task the controversial monuments that stand tall on public display. In Chicago, Christopher Columbus statues draw differing opinions—while some see them as a point of pride for Italian Americans, others associate the statues with a violent history of invasion, enslavement, and oppression of Indigenous peoples. Many US cities vow to remove their Columbus statues, but Chicago’s response remains to be seen. We can be sure that the conversation surrounding controversial statues is just getting started.

Our own Julius L. Jones, assistant curator at the Chicago History Museum, discussed the complexities of these monuments with WTTW’s Evan Garcia. According to Jones, monuments can take on different meanings after they are built. Over time, as more is discovered about the history they were intended to represent, they can also become symbols of harmWatch now.

In This Together

For 164 years, we have shared our city’s stories by preserving and caring for a massive collection of photographs, archives, and artifacts, and by creating exhibitions, programs, events, educational initiatives, and experiences that help both residents and visitors make meaningful and personal connections to Chicago

With our doors closed, we have had to forego the earned revenue on which our work depends, which means that we need your help. Now and through June 30, please support the Chicago History Museum so that we can continue sharing Chicago’s stories now and for generations to come. Donate now.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories