Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. Image provided by Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation

Margaret Thatcher Museum and Library planned as permanent memorial

Rebecca Atkinson, 17.04.2013
Fundraising to commence after funeral
Plans are under way to set up a Margaret Thatcher Museum and Library in central London as a permanent memorial to the former prime minister, whose funeral takes place at St Paul’s Cathedral today.

The Cherish Freedom Trust, which is behind the project, said it hopes to raise £15m to set up a museum to house artefacts from the Thatcher era.

Exhibition themes will include her values and political principles as well “national pride”, covering economic renewal and global leadership with particular emphasis on the Falklands, the special relationship, the cold war and the Kuwait conflict.

According to its website the new venture will focus on public outreach activities with teachers and lecturers “so that the next generation receives a truly balanced economic, political and historical education”. It will also encourage research and scholarship on Thatcher’s life and legacy.

A US-style presidential library honouring Thatcher was first proposed in 2009 by Donal Blaney, chief executive of Conservative Way Forward, after he visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum and the Reagan Ranch Center, operated by Young America’s Foundation, both in California.

The Cherish Freedom Trust states on the museum's website that several large donations have already been pledged. More details of the new museum and library, and the launch of a wider fundraising campaign, are expected after Thatcher’s funeral.

Negotiations for the purchase of a site are still ongoing but it is likely to be based near to Westminster.

The project has been endorsed by several senior Conservatives, including communities secretary Eric Pickles; former defence secretary Liam Fox; and London mayor Boris Johnson.  

Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West and the parliamentary spokesman for the Margaret Thatcher Library and Museum as a trustee of the Cherish Freedom Trust, said: “Lady Thatcher changed the political landscape in Britain and so we wanted something fitting her memory.

"She believed in action and so along with the usual statues and portraits we thought it was vital to do something that will continue to actively contribute toward political debate long after her death.”

It is not clear how the running costs of the museum and library will be met or whether it will receive any public funding. At the time of publication, the Cherish Freedom Trust was not available for comment.

Comments

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Anonymous
MA Member
22.04.2013, 12:29
According to The Telegraph, Cameron is backing the proposal and overseas support has been sought. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/10007828/David-Cameron-gives-backing-to-15million-Thatcher-museum.html)

I very much doubt any funders will allow the unbiased history of her legacy to be told, which is a shame, as it could make for a very interesting platform for discussion if they were brave and honest enough to try it!

The website also says the museum will house artefacts from her time in power, including a selection of suits and handbags. This does reek of a shrine to an 'icon' which is continuing to divide a nation. Personally I mistrust the concept of anything which could undermine trust in museums to tell their stories in an unbiased manner, rather than presenting a party political whitewash of events.
Anonymous
21.04.2013, 13:15
Obviously private individuals can do what they want with their money, but in such a time of austerity and public discontent, it would be inappropriate to use public funds to create a museum like this.

Also, there must be a distinct difference between a museum and a pseudo-shrine; a collection dedicated to creating a positive image of any leader is not the same as a museum faithfully recording the events of history. In order to maintain credibility and integrity, a publically funded museum should record all aspects of Mrs Thatcher's time in office including the less palatable ones. One wonders if private fundraisers would approve of this.

If the country needs a new museum, may I suggest a museum of propaganda? Witch trials, Wars, hagiography, the Final Solution, the McCarthy era, etc, etc... I remember seeing a real yellow star of the kind Jewish people were forced to wear in Hitler's Germany; I never forgot that moment, the reality of history. We need to understand how labels and stereotypes are created, how populations are manipulated. .This would be a true benefit to the world.
Anonymous
21.04.2013, 13:14
Museum? Sounds more like a shrine. I can can see how you can have a single focused exhibition or use a home to tell one person's story but this seems like a personality cult looking for expression rather than anything to do with history. Conservative Way Forward which was reported as behind Cherish Freedom Trust was unsuccessful (check on companies house website - dissolved date in 2005) which makes this look like an opportunitist fundraising scam more about their profile than hers.
Anonymous
18.04.2013, 12:18
There is plenty to admire about Thatcher but she was no supporter of museums, which she had no interest in so the idea of a Thatcher museum is pretty silly when you think about it.
Linden Thomas
Conservation Officer, Rye Castle Museum
18.04.2013, 08:51
I've never heard of anything so ridiculous or offensive. If they want a new museum (and what's wrong with supporting all the existing struggling museums) then a 20th century one would be more suitable.
Anonymous
18.04.2013, 08:27
Thatcher was anti-British, albeit only anti one half - the poor and the vulnerable.

I think it is safe to say that we are internationalist and believe in the well-being of all people, from poor Britains to Chilean students, killed in the brutal regime of one of Thatcher's closest allies.

Kate
17.04.2013, 22:38
Tabitha, Britain stood by those who wanted to stay in her protection. A democratic expression of majority will. You belong to a minority and your hatred is not rational and it is not based on historical scholarship but emotional prejudice. Churchill said "That success covers a multitude of blunders" but you are out of line in this area and forgive one for saying sadly misguided and anti-British.
Anonymous
MA Member
18.04.2013, 17:07
"Not British", "indecent", "out of line and sadly misguided|" and holding "a narrow minority opinion" etc? Thatcher would have been proud of your arrogance, blind conviction and intolerance of views different from your own. Why not go all the way and tell Tabitha that she's really only the enemy within?
17.04.2013, 22:32
The negative comments by anti-Thatcher people are indecent and are not British. One might say indecent.
Churchill once said that "Success covers a multitude of blunders" but to call Margaret a murderer or war criminal is absurd. She defended the right of the islanders to stay British, indicated that Britain was not for turning against those asking for protection and as such deserves honour and praise. Tabitha you need to indulge in a little scholarship and escape from your narrow minority opinion.
Judith Martin
Project Organiser, Industrial Buildings Preservation Trust
19.04.2013, 11:55
I do assure you I'm British. So were the miners and steelworkers whose communities she destroyed. Happily so is Chris Smith, the Labour minister who secured the first decent funding for the arts and made the national museums free of charge again.
Linden Thomas
Conservation Officer, Rye Castle Museum
18.04.2013, 08:53
She had a war to win the election. End of story.
Anonymous
MA Member
17.04.2013, 22:12
I'd like to hope the museum would portray a balanced view, but knowing who its backers are doesn't fill me with hope. I fear, like Tabitha, such a museum would support the "unapologetic rewriting of history".
Anonymous
MA Member
17.04.2013, 18:20
Ensuring "the next generation receives a truly balanced economic, political and historical education" sounds like it will tie in perfectly with the government's proposed history curriculum. So we can all rest easy there then.
Anonymous
MA Member
17.04.2013, 17:22
What a truly unappetising idea. Cherish Freedom? Only if freedom means the survival of the fittest and bugger everyone else. The idea will get nowhere, I hope.
Anonymous
17.04.2013, 16:56
This really isnt on . After all in the Gove inspired era we are now in it would surely be better to have a more chronological approach. Shouldnt we have a museum to The late 70s leader Callaghan. It could start with a three day opening week . Night at the museum would of course be by candlelight to recreate those cosy electricty free evenings we so loved. As an interactive we could get the visitors to empty the bins and clean the overflowing sewers.. Its bound to be such a hit that people would visit again and again the beauty being to add a sense of r pre thatcher realism we could put the prices up by 27 % each year in line with innflation. If the museum failed and racked up huge losses we could get a bail out from the IMF
Judith Martin
Project Organiser, Industrial Buildings Preservation Trust
17.04.2013, 16:41
This really is beyond irony. It's hard to find out much about the Cherish Freedom Trust but its supporters include one adulterer [deleted by moderator], one minister forced to resign over misuse of expenses, [deleted by moderator], one man historically described as a semi-housetrained polecat, one [deleted by moderator] media magnate, and so on... oddly there seem to be no women. As they say, by their friends shall you know them.
Judith Martin
Project Organiser, Industrial Buildings Preservation Trust
01.05.2013, 16:51
I'm sorry the moderator deleted what I thought was simply factual and in the public domain. I'm particularly sorry it was left looking as though I was critical of an adulterer - not because I endorse adultery, or even because if they were barred from public life many establishments would be a great deal sparser, but because it looks unduly narrow-minded. What I oppose is hypocrisy. [deleted by moderator]. The case was all over the media at the time. Yet he was part of a government that loudly endorsed family values. The Cherish Freedom Foundation seems every bit as dubious.
17.04.2013, 16:34
And yet it is both the divisive nature of her legacy and her role in the shaping of this country that makes Margaret Thatcher such an interesting and apt subject for a national museum and library. This should be something that the Museum community celebrates as a great opportunity. A country that cannot have a proper debate about these issues without resorting to meaningless cliches and posturing is in pretty bad shape and to see evidence of this so quickly is dispiriting. Museums have a role to hold up a mirror to our society. In Germany, this has been a vital part of the healing process for that nation and there are plenty of other examples where the Museum community play a vital and relevant part in that debate. I lookk forward to seeing this happen here!
17.04.2013, 16:01
in terms of bad taste this is rivalled only by a £10 million war themed funeral homage to an unrepentant murdering tyrant. It is not the role of our museums and galleries to support the unapologetic rewriting of history. I live in the North and today communities are celebrating our survival from her ideological attempts to destroy us. On monday those of us who came out under Section 28 were raising our glasses and sharing our stories with those whose families were denied social security to bury their dead because they were miners. We would need a lot more than one room for her "controversial policies". She is personally responsible for the children who died scrapping for coal to feed their families that she was starving in order to fulfil her fantasy of 'annihilating communism'.
I expect this project would be seriously opposed and do nothing to stir support for arts and museums.
Sincerely,
Tabitha
Anonymous
17.04.2013, 15:39
Is this some kind of joke?

If it going to exhibit her 'values and principles' I assume this will include a room on her complete disdain for the vulnerable and entire sections of society? And a case including items detailing the huge transferal (ongoing) of wealth from the poor to the rich that occurred under her premiership?

As a suggestion, perhaps there would be a suitable site in Orgreave? Or maybe in Liverpool? I'm sure they would be extremely welcoming of such a venture and both have special insight into her 'values and principles'.

Best,
Kate
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
17.04.2013, 15:48
Hi Kate, thanks for your comment. I was hoping to speak to someone from the Trust ahead of publishing this story - partly because one of my questions about this project (other than the all-important issue of running costs) is how the museum will deal with the more controversial aspects of Thatcher's time in power. I hope to speak to someone soon, and will update this story as soon as I can.
Anonymous
MA Member
17.04.2013, 14:37
Perhaps the financial sector which benefitted so much from the deregulation begun in the Thatcher era will pick up the tab for the running costs. Or perhaps the privatised utilities ...
17.04.2013, 16:36
and what would be wrong with that?!