An online petition to keep the Flushing Remonstrance in the community has begun just as the historic document is about to return to its vault in Albany.
The 350-year-old document, which is the first in this country to call for religious freedom, has been on loan to the Queens Museum of Art from the State Archives since April. The exhibit will close on Sunday.
A one-month exhibit of the Remonstrance ended at the Flushing Library in January, but local leaders have been calling for years to have it returned permanently. The state says because of is fragile condition, it needs to be kept with other New York City documents in climate-controlled conditions.
The Remonstrance was damaged by fire while under the state’s care years ago and is not on view in Albany. The late David Oats of Forest Hills had led the drive to keep the document in Flushing. His successor, Greg Godfrey, announced this week that the petition drive has begun. To read and sign the petition, go to www.flushingremonstrance.org.
Additionally, Godfrey’s group sent a letter to Gov. David Paterson on Monday asking for his assistance in releasing the document from its prison. “…we want you to know that we want to live among this document, which represents the international values of freedom, hope, peace and successful human coexistence,” the letter states.
Godfrey goes on to extol the virtues of the Queens Museum of Art, located in Flushing Meadows Park, as a perfect home for the document. “There is no better place to protect this cherished document than at what is today the Queens Museum of Art, a building which served twice as a pavilion at two international World’s Fairs over four years and which served as the United Nations from 1946 through 1950.”
He notes that the museum is scheduled for major renovations and asks that the Remonstrance be permanently placed at the museum following the work.
Museum Director Tom Finkelpearl has supported the efforts to keep the document and stated that the museum is equipped with climate-controlled technology as well as security to protect it.
This is the fifth time the Remonstrance has been returned to Flushing for display on a temporary basis.