🔴 The front of the Statehouse was closed in 2017 for a $300 million renovation

🔴 The state museum decided to keep Woodrow Wilson's bust in storage

🔴 The Murphy administration was not consulted about the decision

A bust of former President Woodrow Wilson will not return to the Statehouse rotunda after renovations due to space constraints and not politics.

The 28th president, the only New Jersey governor to serve as president, has had a rough couple of years after his racist actions came under scrutiny in 2020. Wilson oversaw the re-segregation of federal offices while in office and once screened a film portraying Ku Klux Klan members as heroes in the White House.

Wilson’s name was removed from Princeton University’s school of public policy and buildings at Rider and Monmouth University and Camden High School.

Woodrow Wilson bust at the Statehouse
Woodrow Wilson bust at the Statehouse (waymarking.com)

Lack of space keeps Woodrow Wilson in storage

His bust was taken out of the rotunda during the Statehouse reconstruction project and placed in a State Museum storage facility, according to Treasury Department spokesman Darryl Isherwood.

"The decision to keep the bust in storage was made by the museum. The administration was not consulted," Isherwood said in a statement. "When the director of the museum was shown the new, restored space she had to make multiple decisions on what would go back in the space, and where, and what will remain in storage," Isherwood told New Jersey 101.5 in an email.

Isherwood did not disclose what else is not being returned to the rotunda in anticipation of its reopening.

The Treasury Department is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Statehouse.

Gov. Phil Murphy sits at Woodrow Wilson's desk
Gov. Phil Murphy sits at Woodrow Wilson's desk (Gov. Phil Murphy)

Wilson's desk already removed

The bust will join Wilson’s desk in storage. Gov. Phil Murphy was photographed sitting at Wison's desk in a tweet observing a moment of silence for George Floyd on June 4, 2020, while in his temporary office. It was removed by the end of the month.

The $300 million renovation was approved by Gov. Chris Christie and started in July 2017 when the front of the building was closed including the rotunda. It is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Politico was first to report about the Wilson bust.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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