For decades, artists who hit the stage at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium were forced to perform while facing a sign that hung from the venue’s balcony that read, “1897 Confederate Gallery.” They won’t be faced with that issue anymore. Recently, authorities at the Ryman have decided to permanently remove the sign from the main hall, replacing it with a different banner that reads, “1892 Ryman Auditorium.”
“If you come to the Ryman [as] a big name performer and you’re looking right out at the center of the balcony and you see that sign, you don’t know what it means,” historian and Ryman consultant David Ewing told the Nashville Scene. “Or if you’re a fan that comes at night, not during the tour, you don’t know what it means either. This is the appropriate place to have the sign and tell the story of 125 years of the Ryman and particularly how the gallery got built.”
The “Confederate Gallery” sign was originally affixed to the venue back in 1897 to commemorate a gathering of Confederate Army veterans who gathered at the Ryman. For big events, like Netflix-filmed comedy specials and a John McCain campaign event in 2008, it’s been regularly obscured in the past, but will now reside in a permanent basis as a piece in the Ryman’s museum.
This latest development follows a sweeping movement in the country by many municipalities to take down and replace signs and statues that honor Confederate generals and soldiers.