A controversial painting that had long been displayed inside the Minnesota State Capitol will have a new, temporary home.
The Minnesota Historical Society announced Monday that the 1904 painting "Attack on New Ulm" by Anton Gag will be featured in a new exhibit opening Sept. 16 at the James J. Hill House art galley until Jan. 14, 2018.
The painting depicts a scene from the battle of New Ulm during the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War where a dozen Dakota men carrying rifles look toward a burning settlement. While some defend the painting, critics say it's historically inaccurate.
"Attack on New Ulm" was being re-evaluated by the Historical Society's executive council to determine whether it should be displayed at the Capitol after the renovation finished.
The exhibit "offers opportunities for learning, dialogue and reflection outside of the Capitol, and this new exhibit at the Hill House features interpretation that explores the painting from multiple current perspectives," the Historical Society said. This is linked to the Capitol exhibit "Reconciling History: Views on Two Paintings," which displays two paintings that critics had sought to have removed.
The Historical Society has scheduled events in September to "share thoughts about the varied meaning of this artwork."
The nearly 7-by-9 foot oil painting had no permanent home at the Capitol, but first was displayed there in 1923.
In December, the society decided to remove the painting and one other after gathering public input.
"It is not original to the building and represents a single painful moment in the complex story of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862," the Historical Society said in a news release.
Dakota scholar and author Gwen Westerman, who teaches at Minnesota State University Mankato, has criticized the New Ulm painting as historically incorrect. In October 2015, Westerman said "Attack on New Ulm" and other paintings sometimes depicted Indians as a "faceless menace." The paintings were often inaccurate with respect to Dakota dress and other cultural characteristics.
Jan Klein from Family and Friends of Dakota Uprising Victims said that although Gag did not witness the battle, he interviewed Dakota people so his painting should be seen as authentic.
"It just shows the attack on New Ulm," Klein said. "I think it's historically accurate. What the painting doesn't show to me is the panic and fear that must have been felt by the residents. This is shared history, not controversial art."