Grantham Museum fundraising to commission statue of Margaret Thatcher
Grantham Museum has today launched a £200,000 fundraising project - with half the money earmarked to commission a larger-than-life-size statue of Margaret Thatcher.
The announcement comes just a month after the museum came under national and international media scrutiny when its then general manager, Jayne Robb, wrongly claimed it had been offered an high-profile marble statue of the former Prime Minister on display at London's Guildhall Art Gallery.
Mrs Robb was suspended from the part-time contracted role and, just a day later, the general manager position was axed.
In the wake of the fall-out, Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), which operates the museum, has launched the £200,000 Margaret Thatcher Statue Project.
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The association aims to commission a statue of Margaret Thatcher to recognise the local grocer's daughter who became Britain's first female Prime Minister.
The remaining £100,000 will fund renovations of the museum and maintain and add to exhibits as well as support the registered educational charity's work.
A museum press spokesperson said: "This is a very exciting project.
"Margaret Thatcher is one of the UK's most important political figures and commemorating her connection to the town is something we have been toying with since the museum reopened last year.
"The appeal is something we have been working on for months and we had planned a formal press conference for April.
"But the recent fairly intense media speculation means that we have brought the announcement forward.
"We realised that Margaret Thatcher is still big news and, as a museum in her home town, it is only proper that we do something to recognise that."
The original 1.8 tonne Italian marble statue at the centre of last month's story was famously decapitated while on display in London. The head was later reattached and the statue is still at the Guildhall Art Gallery - now behind protective glass.
There will be public consultation to determine the specifics of Grantham's own statue and an eminent sculptor with international reputation will be commissioned.
The statue will go on public display inside the museum, surrounded by exhibits interpreting and explaining Mrs Thatcher's life and political career.
The GCHA has taken fundraising matters back into its own hands after failing to secure monies from multiple sources.
It is working with professional museum design consultant to draw up the plans for the new-look museum.
"We have no idea how long it will take to raise the funds, which we appreciate are significant, and get the renovations and statue underway.
"But we are committed to this project.
"It is about bringing the history of Grantham to life and securing the sustainability of the museum and its exhibits - to make the museum a destination of choice," added the spokesperson.
More details of the project will be unveiled next month.
In the meantime today the GCHA also launched a Margaret Thatcher Statue Project website at www.margaretthatcherstatue.org providing details and the facility to donate.