A piece that was stolen from a statue of Harriet Tubman, on display at the Bannker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, has been returned, museum officials announced Wednesday. The statue is on loan to the Annapolis museum from the Goya Contemporary Gallery in Baltimore. Image Photo Credit: Ken Ek, Courtesy Goya Contemporary Gallery.

A piece that was stolen in December from a Harriet Tubman statue on display at the Banneker-Douglass Museum has been returned, the museum announced Wednesday.

The staff, called a vévé, was part of a Tubman statue entitled “Araminta with Rifle and Vévé,” which is on loan to the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis from the Goya Contemporary Gallery in Baltimore.

The statue was transported to and displayed in front of the Annapolis museum in September. In December, the statue was defaced and the staff was stolen.

The Annapolis Police Department recovered the vévé during their investigation into its theft and the statue’s defacement. Banneker-Douglass Museum Executive Director Chanel C. Johnson and Curator of Collections Schillica Howard retrieved the piece from the police department and returned it to the museum Jan. 25, according to museum officials.

“Words cannot describe how relieved we are to get back this precious artwork by Dr. Joyce J. Scott. I want to thank the Annapolis Police Department, Delegate Shaneka Henson, Dr. Scott, Goya Contemporary Gallery, museum staff, and the community-at-large for working together to get the missing work back to the museum,” Johnson said in a statement.

Museum officials said they are still assessing any damages to the vévé. They have not yet determined whether the piece will be re-installed to the statue.

Tubman was born Araminta Ross in Dorchester County in 1820. The Maryland abolitionist escaped slavery in 1849 and went on to guide dozens of enslaved Black people to freedom along the Underground Railroad. 

Baltimore artist Joyce J. Scott created the statue of Tubman. Known as the “Queen of Beadwork,” Scott used intricate, handcrafted beading on the statue.

The statue is on display in front of the museum as part of their exhibition “The Radical Voice of Blackness Speaks of Resistance and Joy,” which will run through Sept. 30.

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Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...