MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just one week before the grand re-opening of its Sculpture Garden, the Walker Art Center is apologizing for one of its newest structures.
Early Friday afternoon, the Walker published an open letter to The Circle, a Native American news service in Minneapolis.
The apology letter addresses controversy surrounding one of its newest structures, called “Scaffold” by Los Angeles-based artist Sam Durant, which is a piecing together of various gallows used in U.S. history.
One of the main inspirations, however, is the 1862 Mankato gallows — where the largest mass execution in U.S. history took place. It’s where 38 Dakota men were hanged after being convicted of rape and murder during the Dakota Wars.
In the letter, Director Olga Viso acknowledges that the decision to exhibit the work may cause some to question the art center’s sensitivity to the Native American community.
“As director of the Walker, I regret that I did not better anticipate how the work would be received in Minnesota, especially by Native audiences. I should have engaged leaders in the Dakota and broader Native communities in advance of the work’s siting, and I apologize for any pain and disappointment that the sculpture might elicit,” Viso said.
Viso says it’s a “deep learning moment” for the art center for its relationship with Native audiences.
Viso says the next step is a consultation with community members who elect to be involved in the process.
“As part of our active learning we recognize that our work moving forward must be done with the guidance of the Dakota community,” she said.
The Walker is slated to re-open the Sculpture Garden on Saturday, June 3.