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Rochester develops traveling exhibit on controversial carousel panel

Randy Gorbman

Details have been released about what to do with a controversial wooden panel that was removed last year from the Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park.

The panel has been criticized as being an example of  racist art, sometimes called pickaninny art, that used to be part of the carousel. It depicts African American children with exaggerated features.

The Rochester Museum and Science Center has developed a multi-media display around the panel, explaining how it came to be developed and why it’s offensive.

There is an agreement  between the city and the RMSC to try and make this panel a teachable moment.  The exhibit  will travel around to various locations before eventually ending up at the museum.

Mayor Lovely Warren says it’s important that this panel be displayed with historical context.

“As an educational tool so that we never forget ; it is easy sometimes to forget about what has happened in our country’s past ; it is easy to overlook it when you don’t necessarily see it every day, or experience it, every day “

The first stop for the exhibit is the Central Church of Christ on South Plymouth Avenue and Minister Clifford Florence says this exhibit should be part of an ongoing conversation in Rochester.

“Sustained dialogue and education regarding the historic, ongoing  nature and essence and impact of individual and institutional and structural racism on all of us.”

The total cost for the project, to be borne by the city, will be about $37,000

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.