Linden Neighborhood Conversation

Melanie Crabill
Director of Media Relations
[email protected]

Kevin Kilbane
Director of Communications
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Media Advisory
News Date: June 20, 2023

Columbus Announces $3.5 Million Plan to Reimagine Public Art and Commemorative Spaces

The City of Columbus today announced a $3.5 million plan to transform the city’s commemorative landscape to more fully celebrate the diversity and multiplicity of our city. The “Reimagining Columbus” initiative includes a record $1.5 million investment in new public art on the City Hall campus and efforts to promote diversity in the city’s public art and public spaces. The Mellon Foundation also announced Monday that the City of Columbus will join eight other cities funded by its Monuments Project, which will provide $2 million to convene the Columbus community to collaboratively design a space that re-contextualizes the city’s Christopher Columbus statue to explain his legacy as it is understood today, and to uplift the stories of residents underrepresented in the telling of our city’s history. 

“Today, we take the next step in rewriting our narrative. We take responsibility to tell the truth about colonialism and racism, and to tell the stories of the people who have been overlooked and erased from the telling of our history. I invite the entire community to join us in an inclusive discussion that will allow us to re-envision how we project ourselves to the world and create a symbolic landscape that more closely resembles our shared values and aspirations for our future,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. 

Speaking about the Monuments Project’s funding for nine projects across the country, Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Mellon Foundation said, “Through the monuments and memorials that mark them, our civic spaces are where many of us first learn about the American Story. These grants strengthen new possibilities for commemoration in American cities so we can better understand that story and the history that informs it, and so we can celebrate the collective achievements and extraordinary acts these new monuments and memorials will honor in civic spaces across the country.”

Reimagining Columbus establishes funding and a work plan to enact a directive issued by Mayor Ginther when the Columbus statue was placed into storage. Through the $2 million Monuments Project grant, the city will engage residents, conduct research into colonial and contemporary history and leverage best practices in placemaking to assess the future disposition of the Columbus statue, which was given to Columbus by its Sister City of Genoa in 1955. Through the process, residents will be invited to collaboratively ideate on a future public space that would tell the stories of people impacted by Christopher Columbus’ legacy and allow visitors to understand and physically interact with difficult history. Led by a team of historians, indigenous architects and designers, and diversity and inclusion advisors, the project will use conventional and restorative practices to support the sharing of personal narratives from Columbus residents to create places and symbols that our community sees themselves reflected in. 

Public engagement through the Reimagining Columbus initiative will elicit feedback on how public art and city symbols, such as the city seal and flag, can communicate the community’s values and aspirations for the future. The City of Columbus commits $1.5 million – the largest sum it has ever committed to a single public art project – to create new public art for the City Hall campus that expresses this vision. 

Additional work on equity in the public art arena will take place through the “Greater Columbus. Greater Art.” initiative funded by the city and county and led by the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Through this effort, announced last month, Columbus will develop its first-ever public art plan, which will include a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, detailing actions the community can take to depict more diverse subjects in Columbus’ public art, cultivate diverse artistic talent and commission art in more Columbus neighborhoods. 

“It is exciting to share this multi-million dollar investment into public art and engaging discourse from the Mellon Foundation,” said Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy. “I believe this investment into our public art plan will help move our city forward while creating thoughtful, interactive spaces for our community to share history, stories and truth.”

Additional information about Reimagining Columbus is available at