The Confederate Monument could have a teaching career in its future. That’s why it belongs in a museum, preferably the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art. From an artistic perspective, designed by nationally renowned sculptor George Julian Zolnay, the monument remains one of the finest pieces of public art in Daviess County. More importantly, it offers an essential lesson in race relations for area youth.

Schools regularly take students to museums. At OMFA, the monument provides the opportunity for a special history lesson. For example, why was the monument placed in Owensboro in 1900? Why was it removed from the courthouse lawn 120 years later? On a personal level, Zolnay, a New York City resident, married a prominent Owensboro woman. Locally, he employed a male model for the Confederate soldier sculpture.

In addition, the monument provides a lesson in art history. Sculptor Zolnay’s works continue to sell on the secondary art market. The monument cost $110,000 in today’s money. The soldier sculpture was cast in bronze by Jno. Williams Inc., which did castings for the U.S. Capitol. Many cities got cheap mass-produced zinc sculptures. They settled for limestone bases that deteriorated as Owensboro secured a granite base that remains pristine.

In short, as an outstanding work of art, the monument must be preserved among other fine works of art where it can be enjoyed for generations to come. And it should be located in a place where it continues to teach a lesson in race relations that must not be forgotten.

Paul Morsey


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