A controversial panel displaying racist artwork that was removed last spring from the Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park is going on display, with its first stop being downtown’s Central Church of Christ.
Rochester Museum and Science Center, under an agreement with the city, has developed a multi-media display incorporating the panel. A community preview and reception, free and open to the public, is set for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the church, 101 S. Plymouth Ave. The plan is for the panel to be at the church through mid-May, with tours or a viewing schedule still being finalized, officials said.
Tonight’s event is cause for celebration. After community debate and discussion, the RM&SC’s creation of the display is a Rochester success story. After a local blogger brought the panel to light, many ideas were proposed: leaving the panel as it is, adding an explanatory text, moving the panel to storage, donating the panel to a local museum, or destroying the panel. We also suggested donating the panel to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.
As the community debated options, it became clear that using the panel as a teachable moment while preserving its beauty was by the far the best route. Those who couldn’t see why the panel was offensive lost the debate. Those, like Howard Eagle, who believed the panel must be destroyed, lost the debate. Instead we all won.
Below are our stories on the panel: