Missouri Museum to Preserve Ferguson Protest Art

After protests left many storefronts boarded up, artists have taken to decorating the wooden surfaces to spread messages of peace. Photo via: Paint for Peace StL

After protest riots in Ferguson and St. Louis left many of the cities’ storefronts boarded up with plywood, artists picked up their brushes and started to decorate the boards with images and bright colors.

The Missouri History Museum and the Regional Art Commission have now launched an endeavor to preserve these optimistic artistic embellishments, reports the Columbia Missourian.

The unrest was in response to a grand jury’s failure to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

According to Missouri History Museum director of library and collections Chris Gordon, the institution hopes to collect these boards either for research or possibly for an exhibition. As of now, artists have decorated 100 board-covered storefronts and they plan to continue.

“Hundreds of artists have banded together to highlight the community’s strength and provide a positive outlet that will allow people to move past the images of businesses being looted and burned,” said Tom Halaska, owner of a St. Louis art bar and a Paint for Peace St. Louis organizer.

But although the artistic effort, according to Halaska, “has received tremendous support from business owners and residents,” the preservation of the work has been criticized by many.

“It’s not the history you’d want to remember,” said Varun Madaksira, owner of a business set on fire during the protests.

Some protesters such as Tony Rice of Ferguson, who has been protesting since Brown was killed on August 9, feel that the museum’s endeavor is “an attempt to whitewash the pain the community has suffered.”

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