Letters: Sir Robert Geffrye statue still prominent at The Museum of the Home

The statue of Sir Robert Geffrye at The Museum of the Home (formerly called The Geffrye Museum). Picture: Ken Mears

The statue of Sir Robert Geffrye at The Museum of the Home (formerly called The Geffrye Museum). Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Slaver statue remains as local feelings are ignored

Robert E Rutkowski, Kansas, USA, wrote to the mayor of Hackney and Meg Hillier MP:

The Museum of the Home is due to reopen in just a few weeks on June 12.

The statue of racist slave trader Robert Geffrye is still in pride of place in the gardens.

As you probably know, there was a public consultation where over 70 per cent of people said they should take down the statue. This rose to 79pc for people who live nearby. The museum completely ignored public opinion and said that they would “reinterpret and recontextualise” the statue rather than taking it down.

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All during lockdown there have been workmen in the museum, renovating it and making it ready for the relaunch. However they have currently seemingly done nothing to the statue. Robert Geffrye is still there, gloating over Hoxton. 

It seems the museum are hoping that the fuss about their statue of a racist slave trader will simply go away.

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One change the museum has made is to put in a planning permission application for new security cameras and sensors on the gates.

The museum should live up to their words.

Step in and call on the museum to postpone their re-opening until the statue is taken down.

Museum opening should be delayed

Patricia Isaacs, full address supplied, writes:

I have written to the mayor of Hackney, and to Meg Hillier MP, asking them to insist on postponement of the re-opening of the Museum of the Home until the statue of Robert Geffrye is removed. 

The museum has long been a favourite of mine, but the statue is entirely out of keeping in these days of greater understanding.

Please ensure that your newspaper covers any developments in this matter. 

Although history must and should record slavery and the part of slave owners in sustaining slavery, it is inappropriate to honour the slave owners with statues – they were not heroes, after all.

Consultation has been disregarded

Hackney Stand Up To Racism held a demonstration to protest against the Robert Geffrye statue outside

Hackney Stand Up To Racism held a demonstration to protest against the Robert Geffrye statue outside the Museum of the Home - Credit: Dean Ryan

Amer Saad, Hurst Road, Walthamstow, writes:

Please can you run a main story to point out that the Museum of the Home is ignoring the results of its public consultation with local people in which 70 per cent said the statue should be taken down. This rose to 79pc of the people who live nearby.

There is no reason to get rid of the statue, but it should not be given pride of place as it currently is in their gardens, but placed somewhere inside the museum with a history explaining about him.

Recontextualising the statue while still giving it prominence does not send the right message of what our current values are. 

How would the rest of Europe feel if Germany still had statues of Hitler and other Nazi leaders given prominence in public places but just reinterpreted and recontextualised?

‘Heartbreaking’ to keep statue up

A Mile End resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I am writing to voice my support for the campaign to move the Robert Geffrye statue from it’s current position of admiration, to somewhere where it can be recontextualised and the truth be told.

I live in Mile End. I was a signatory to the public campaign for the statues removal from the front of the building. That campaign showed 70 per cent of people said they wanted it taken down. 

The message sent to communities rooted in slavery and oppression by the museum’s refusal to take action is heartbreaking. 

I hope you and your team can continue to cover this issue to ensure that constructive and forward-thinking action on the right side of history is taken.

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