Mar 29, 2023 - News

Women are underrepresented in Minnesota's statues

Mary Tyler Moore's statue depicts her fictional character's introduction to Minneapolis. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

Like most places in the U.S., Minnesota's inventory of monuments is male-dominated.

Why it matters: Statues have historically represented our values by putting people on literal pedestals, but the lack of them depicting literal women presents a lopsided and biased view of American history, Axios' Chelsea Brasted reports.

  • Of the top 50 most-depicted historical figures represented in U.S. public monuments, only three are women, according to nonprofit Monument Lab's data.

The state of play: Minnesota has many statues of male historical figures, according to the data, but the few statues of women rarely depict real people.

Zoom in: Though it's still dominated by male statues, the Minnesota State Capitol made history last year with the installation of a Nellie Stone Johnson monument.

  • Johnson was a civil rights activist and helped form the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. She's believed to be the first statue of a Black woman in a state capitol building in the U.S.
  • Minneapolis City Hall also installed a bronze bust in 2017 of the city's first female mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.

The bottom line: "Monument-building is a slow process, and it will be decades — if ever — before gender parity exists in public art," Sierra Rooney, assistant professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, tells Axios San Antonio.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to show Mary Tyler Moore's character is named Mary Richards, not Mary Tyler Moore.


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