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Gallows sculpture removed from MN art exhibit

Posted at 3:32 PM, May 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 15:32:15-04

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/CNN) - An arts center said it will take down a sculpture after Native Americans argued the artwork made light of the deaths of their ancestors.

The grand opening of the newly renovated sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center is a week away, but one piece of art there is already history.

"This was used to murder," said Shannon Nordby, a protester.

Alongside cheerful pieces, like a big blue rooster, stands "Scaffold," based in part on the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota tribe members in Mankato 155 years ago.

"It's an actual replica, the same size as what was made in Mankato," Nordby said.

Dozens of people, including many children, gathered outside the structure Sunday, painting signs and pleading the Walker to take it down.

In a statement released later in the day, the executive director wrote that she regrets the pain that this artwork has brought to the Dakota community and others, saying it will be dismantled in some manner.

That's still not good enough for some to heal the deep wounds inflicted by the wood and metal structure.

"As far as being satisfied, it's still standing there," said Sam Wounded Knee, a protester. "They had workers here today, they could have taken it down." 

Art center officials will meet with Dakota leaders to discuss how and when the artwork will be dismantled.

Scaffold is the work of a Los Angeles-based artist named Sam Durant.

He has said the intent of the work was to raise awareness about capital punishment and America's violent past.

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