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The City Of Columbus Unveils $3.5 Million Plan To Reimagine Space Around City Hall

The City of Columbus has big plans.

The “Reimagining Columbus” initiative, announced on Tuesday, encompasses a $1.5 million investment in new public art on the City Hall campus and a concerted effort to promote diversity within the city’s public art and public spaces.

At the forefront of this initiative is the city’s recognition of the need to rewrite its narrative, taking responsibility for acknowledging the truths of colonialism and racism while honoring the stories that have been overlooked or erased from the annals of history.

In a remarkable development, Columbus has been selected as one of nine recipients of the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project, which will provide $2 million to engage the Columbus community in collaboratively designing a space that recontextualizes the city’s Christopher Columbus statue.

The goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of his legacy as it stands today while showcasing the stories of those historically underrepresented in the city’s narrative.

Led by a team of historians, indigenous architects and designers, and diversity and inclusion advisors, this collaborative project will actively engage residents, conduct extensive research into colonial and contemporary history, and employ best practices in placemaking to determine the future disposition of the Columbus statue.

The project aims to foster a deeper understanding and physical interaction with the complexities of Columbus’s legacy, utilizing both conventional and restorative practices.

Central to the “Reimagining Columbus” initiative is the active involvement of the community through public engagement. The city will seek feedback on how public art and city symbols, including the city seal and flag, can effectively communicate the values and aspirations of its residents.

“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.

In an unprecedented commitment, the City of Columbus will allocate $1.5 million to create new public art on the City Hall campus, making it the largest investment ever dedicated to a single public art project.

This artistic expression will serve as a visual representation of the city’s collective vision and aspirations, inviting residents and visitors alike to appreciate and engage with its diverse cultural fabric.

In addition to the “Reimagining Columbus” initiative, the city is also undertaking the “Greater Columbus. Greater Art.” initiative which aims to promote equity in the public art arena.

Funded by the city and county and led by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, this effort will develop the city’s first-ever public art plan.

The plan 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.

The City of Columbus is embarking on a transformative journey, reimagining its commemorative landscape to more fully celebrate the diversity and multiplicity of the city. Through significant investments in public art, engaging dialogue, and a commitment to equity, Columbus is reshaping its narrative, symbolically reflecting the shared values and aspirations of our vibrant community.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).