A conservative group is calling for the Department of the Interior to cut ties with a non-profit organization currently raising funds for a National Park Service (NPS) overhaul of the Jefferson Memorial.
The Trust for the National Mall (TNM) raises private funds for NPS projects on the National Mall, which gives the nonprofit some influence over how the monuments are managed, The Washington Examiner reports.
The conservative group Americans for Limited Government (ALG) took issue with some of the most recent renovations scheduled for the memorial — particularly updates to an exhibit on Jefferson’s history.
“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke needs to set the record straight that a private non-profit group … does not control memorial or museum content on the National Mall,” ALG President Ric Manning said in a statement. “If the ‘Trust’ insists on changes, the Department of Interior should discontinue all ties with the group.”
The latest project involves a slew of upgrades and repairs that include “new ramps, restrooms, a reconfigured elevator and new exhibits” costing around $4.3 million. TNM raised $3.5 million to help pay for the renovation, according to a statement National Mall and Memorial Parks superintendent Gay Vietzke provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Current exhibits at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial include content about slavery and Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of enslaved people,” Vietzke’s statement said. “The final design, which will be completed by summer 2018, will continue to improve on the park’s efforts to present and share appropriate context and content in a way that all our visitors can access.”
While plans for work on the monument were finalized months prior, TNM president Catherine Townsend released a statement days after white supremacists and neo-Nazis clashed with Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists in Charlottesville, Va., over the future of confederate monuments.
“In the coming weeks and months, the physical symbols of American history and democracy will be scrutinized and challenged,” Townsend continued. “When that happens, we will work with our partners to ensure the National Mall continues to be a vibrant and relevant place where Americans can learn about our history and imagine our future, together.”
With this latest update TNM is working with the NPS to contextualize Jefferson’s life, a TNM official told The Washington Examiner.
“We can reflect the momentous contributions of someone like Thomas Jefferson, but also consider carefully the complexity of who he was,” the TNM official said. “And that’s not reflected right now in the exhibits.”
Americans for Limited Government did not respond to a request for comment.
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