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Mayor de Blasio's Plan To Update City Art Collection Draws Criticism From Some New Yorkers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to update the city's collection of art.

As CBS2's Steve Langford reported, the mayor may take down some portraits at City Hall and hang others up, but not everyone agrees with his vision.

The City Hall Portraits Collection consists of more than 100 paintings of presidents, mayors, and military heroes from centuries past, something the mayor wants to change.

"We've said that we think the artwork in all of our buildings should reflect the totality of our city." the mayor said.

The mayor declined to elaborate on the plan, which has drawn criticism, notably from a former top official of the commission that oversees art on city properties. Michelle Bogart called the idea stupid.

"It assumes that blacks and Hispanics somehow can't handle learning about people from the past. It's dumbing down history and it's condescending," she said.

"I think it's normal that our public buildings reflect all our people," the mayor explained.

The portraits inside City Hall consist almost entirely of white people with the obvious exception of Mayor David Dinkins.

Officials at the mayor's office would not allow CBS2 to capture portraits of recent mayors or even past presidents on camera, and said no decision has been made regarding whether any art could or will be removed from City Hall, and what it might be replaced with.

Around City Hall there were mixed opinions on the plan to update the look of art inside the building.

"I don't think he should change it. I mean if that's the way it's been for so long it should stay the way it is," Tony Medina said.

"We live in the most melting pot spot on earth, so there's no reason the portraits shouldn't have the diversity of the neighborhood," Ron Sosenko countered.

A spokesman for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led a non-profit effort to raise close to $2-million to conserve the art inside City Hall declined to comment on Mayor de Blasio's plan.

The mayor's office said discussions are underway for what they call a long-term project.

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