Controversial murals removed from courthouse head to college

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Two courthouse murals that were taken down last month in Columbia amid concerns that they depict an attempted lynching, a white man pointing a gun at a Native American man and enslaved people building the courthouse have a new home.

The murals are headed to the private Columbia College, where Sidney Larson, the late artist who painted the murals, taught for more than 50 years, The Columbia Daily Tribune reports.

The murals will be stored at the college until an exhibit can appropriately highlight the educational and historical purpose of the artwork, college President David Russell wrote in a letter last week to Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill.

“Columbia College would like to see the murals properly preserved as part of the artistic and historical legacy of the region,” Russell wrote.

Opponents of the murals have argued that the subject matter has no place in a courthouse because of its scenes of extrajudicial punishment. Those who argued in favor of keeping the murals said the depictions represent county history, however negative, and should be presented with more context.

Commissioner Janet Thompson said she hopes that when the murals are displayed again, they can lead to a “vibrant and robust discussion in an educational environment.”