Sculpture Garden's 'Scaffold' to be dismantled, burned at Ft. Snelling

The controversial “Scaffold” installation at the newly renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be dismantled, taken to Fort Snelling and ceremonially burned, officials at the Walker Art Center announced Wednesday. WATCH FULL VIDEO OF ANNOUNCEMENT

The sculpture partly depicts the mass-hanging of 38 members of the Dakota tribe in Mankato in 1862. It sparked protests over Memorial Day weekend, causing the Walker Art Center to postpone the grand reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. 

Dakota Elders met Wednesday morning with the artist--Los Angeles-based Sam Durant--the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board and the City of Minneapolis to discuss the future of the installation.

Following the meeting, Stephanie Hope Smith, the neutral mediator for the parties, announced "Scaffold" would be dismantled during a ceremony at the sculpture garden Friday at 2 p.m. The ceremony will be led by Dakota spiritual leaders and elders. 

The wood will be removed by a Native construction company, Smith said. It will be taken to Fort Snelling, where it will eventually be burned during a ceremony. The date of the ceremony at Fort Snelling will be announced at a later time. 

As part of the mediation agreement, the artist agreed to never replicate the Dakota gallows. He also agreed to transfer the intellectual property rights of "Scaffold" to the Dakota Oyate people.

Durant said he had done historical research on the events depicted in his work, but admitted he had not met with the people whose ancestors were affected by those events.

“I just wanted to apologize for the trauma and the suffering that my work has caused in the community and I felt that very much,” Durant said at the press conference. 

The Walker said it does not intend to construct "Scaffold" again. 

“There’s no question that the Walker’s process in placing this sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was flawed,” said Olga Viso, the executive director of the Walker Art Center. “I apologize that we were not sufficiently aware of the implications of its placement or sympathetic to the pain and suffering that this would elicit.” 

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will reopen on June 10.