by Kevin Walsh

City Councilmembers Peter Vallone (speaking) and Elizabeth Crowley (red coat, to his left) oppose the move of Triumph of Civic Virtue to Brooklyn

A  number of Queens elected officials, including the now-disgraced US Representative Anthony Weiner and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, have been critical of Frederick MacMonnies’ 1922 allegorical work Triumph of Civic Virtue, claiming its depiction of a warrior astride two fallen mermaids sends a sexist message. Some, however, can look beyond the literal and see its symbolic, as well as artistic, value.

Still, its Queens detractors seem to have won, as the NYC Design Commission approved the move of Virtue‘s present localtion west of Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, where it would undergo restoration. The statue’s pedestal/fountain would remain in place and a new installation celebrating women in history would take its place. Though the decision was made November 13th, the community board was not informed, creating the impression that the work would be moved in the dead of night, with hopefully no one noticing.

On Saturday, December 8th, 2012, Community Board 9 hosted a rally to restore the work in place. City Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Elizabeth Crowley voiced support that Triumph would stay where he is.  Vallone offered the opinion that similar works in Central Park wouldn’t be allowed to deteriorate the way Civic Virtue was.

Let your elected officials know where you stand regarding Civic Virtue

Get involved in the work’s preservation in Queens

FNY details Triumph of Civic Virtue



chris December 8, 2012 - 8:07 pm

People wake up in the morning and say to themselves-
“Gee,what can I find offensive today?”

jack norman December 8, 2012 - 8:40 pm

Wasnt this in front of City Hall when LGA was Mayor and he didnt like looking his ass and it moved to Queens??????This poor guy has had more crap poured on his head then bird shit!!!!!!Didnt Wiener make it a female rights issue at some point???

Kevin Walsh December 8, 2012 - 10:28 pm

Yes and yes.

Gerri December 9, 2012 - 2:00 pm

As a former Mermaid Parade mermaid, I’d like to see the statue in next year’s Coney Island event!
Don’t “bury” it in Green-Wood.

Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council December 9, 2012 - 6:32 pm

Civic Virtue does not depict a nude man standing over 2 women. The figures are an allegorical representation of Greek mythology. Hercules stands over but not on top of 2 female sirens symbolizing vice and corruption, which Civic Virtue denounces in society. Some politicians cannot bear passing it en route to Borough Hall. Just examine the track record of those who had to step down in recent years due to their shattered oath not long after being elected to public office. This is a peaceful statue designed by the world-known Frederick MacMonnies, who was the last major American Beaux Art sculptor. Civic Virtue is public art that belongs to & in Queens. On behalf of the citizens of Queens who wish to secure its future where it has sat for 71 years, it is unethical behavior by Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the NYC Design Commission, and select “public servants” to concoct a deal to transport Civic Virtue to the privately-owned Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This was not agreed upon by the Queens constituency. We pay our fair share of taxes. Join http://www.triumphofcivicvirtue.org

Jon Steiner December 18, 2012 - 11:35 am

I saw this being loaded onto a truck this past Saturday.

I took pictures of the crane and the statue being loaded onto a truck.

Personally, as a Kew Garden resident, I don’t care if it stays or goes, but I do think that we should selectively choose what is important to maintain. I don’t think this is worth the money to maintain.

I think the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows ballpark? Sure. The park itself? Absolutely. Not this thing, though.


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