Metro Council has approved a resolution asking Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to “repair, restore and reinstall” a statue of King Louis XVI, the city’s namesake, to the corner of 6th and Jefferson streets outside of Metro Hall.
On Thursday night, council members approved the resolution 23-3. It had passed out of committee Dec. 1 on a 6-4 vote.
During the meeting, Council member Brent Ackerson (D-26), a co-sponsor on the resolution, acknowledged the “mixed vote on it” in committee, and said his “sponsorship is limited to the idea that I want to see the statue return regardless of cost, unless the cost is astronomical.”
“We throw a lot of money at a lot of things,” Ackerson continued. “And so, at the end of the day, I think the King Louis XVI statue is important for the history of Louisville. Myself, my generation has grown up as it being a part of the city, an icon, a symbol of the city. And so I’m very supportive of this.”
Council member Nicole George (D-21) proposed an amendment to include a process for public input.
The amendment failed with a 13-13 vote.
Council member Anthony Piagentini (R-19), said they were elected to represent the voice of the people and didn’t want to send a message that it’s OK to damage public art.
Several years ago, the Metro established a mayor-appointed Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee amid ongoing debates about a statue of John B. Castleman. The committee, in 2018, released guidelines on public art and monuments, and the Metro’s Commission on Public Art has been urging council members to consider these recommendations when discussing the King Louis XVI statue.
“This is a resolution. This is a request for the mayor to do something… it has no teeth,” Council member David Yates (D-25) said. “Regardless, what we put in the resolution, the decision’s gonna be made by the administration. And I would encourage each of you, is to engage your constituents to try to get an idea of what they want.”
The city has been in discussions with conservation experts. An initial report showed “extensive damage,” and suggested the marble statue not be displayed outdoors as the porous nature of the marble made it extra susceptible to damage from weather and the elements.
It is still unknown how much repairs and restoration will cost.
Here’s more on the repairs that have been made to the statue: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/arts-culture/louis-xvi