Robert Milligan statue statement

9 June 2020

A Museum of London spokesperson said:

“The statue of Robert Milligan has stood uncomfortably outside the Museum of London Docklands for a long time, one of only three museums in the UK to address the history of the transatlantic slave trade.

Robert Milligan was a prominent British Slave trader who, by the time of his death in 1809, owned 2 sugar plantations and 526 slaves in Jamaica. A statue made by Sir Richard Westmacott was moved in 1997 to West India Quay, opposite the Museum of London Docklands, in honour of Milligan’s ‘genius, perseverance and guardian care’, as a commemoration to his achievements.

The Museum of London recognises that the monument is part of the ongoing problematic regime of white-washing history, which disregards the pain of those who are still wrestling with the remnants of the crimes Milligan committed against humanity. At the Museum of London we stand against upholding structures that reproduce violence, and have previously engaged in interventions that critically engage with pro-slavery lobbying.

We are committed to the processes of learning and unlearning as fostered in our London, Sugar & Slavery gallery, which opened in 2007 at the Museum of London Docklands. This gallery tells the history of the transatlantic slave trade and London’s involvement as once the fourth largest slaving port in the world. The museum, being another physical manifestation of slavery situated in an old sugar warehouse, constantly challenges the contentious nature of this history.

Now more than ever at a time when Black Lives Matter is calling for an end to public monuments honouring slave owners, we advocate for the statue of Robert Milligan to be removed on the grounds of its historical links to colonial violence and exploitation.

We are currently working with a consortium to remove this statue and are aware of other legacies and landmarks within the area. The statue presently stands shrouded with placards and is now an object of protest, we believe these protests should remain as long as the statue remains.”