NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The bust of Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and two others were installed at the Tennessee State Museum Tuesday after they were removed from the Capitol last week.
The museum has a new exhibit for the busts of Forrest, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and Admiral Albert Gleaves.
The three busts are estimated to weigh up to 3,000 pounds each. The removal of the busts required heavy-duty equipment, including a specialized hydraulic lift, and a temporary construction zone was put in place in the Capitol. Removal of the busts from the Capitol took nearly four hours to complete.
Each bust was strategically loaded onto a flatbed truck and escorted to the museum. Removal costs are estimated to be around $17,000 and will be covered by the State Museum.
The three busts will be on display for public viewing beginning Tuesday at the museum during regular business hours. The exhibit will be in Temporary Gallery 2 on the museum’s second floor.
The sculptures will be displayed with together with portraits that were also once installed at the State Capitol — portraits of Union Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, Admiral William Banks Caperton and Rear Admiral Charles St. John Butler. Together, these objects show how public art in the Capitol has changed and continues to change in this public space, according to the museum.
Forrest was a Confederate cavalry general who amassed a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader in Memphis before the Civil War. His involvement with the Klan came after the war.
Last week, the State Building Commission voted 5-2 to agree with the Historical Commission’s decision earlier this year to remove the busts.
Governor Bill Lee expressed support for moving the bust, which was installed at the Capitol in 1978 and has since sparked multiple protests and demonstrations.
“After more than a year in the making, this process has finally come to a close,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank the members of the Capitol Commission, Historical Commission and State Building Commission for providing thoughtful input and ensuring confidence in the process. The State Museum provides the full historical context for these figures as we remember our state’s rich and complex past.”
“It’s most important to me that we followed the process…I think that we’ll have the result that’s best for Tennessee,” the governor added.