n the 27 January 1877 an anniversary meeting to honour Robert Burns took place in the George Inn Hall, Kilmarnock, attended by upwards of 250 people. At this meeting it was proposed, and unanimously agreed that a statue be erected in suitable place in Kilmarnock in honour of the poet. A committee was appointed to carry out the proposal. The appeal to the public for funding met with unprecedented success, and £2,488 was collected in 18 months.
With such a large fund at their disposal, the original plan was extended to include an ornamental building and museum in addition to the statue. The plans of Robert Ingram, an architect from Kilmarnock, were accepted for the building, while the statue was thrown open to competition. Eventually, the committee awarded the commission for the statue to W G Stevenson, a sculptor from Edinburgh.
The statue was unveiled on 9 August 1879 by Colonel Alexander of Ballochmyle, before the largest number of spectators Kilmarnock had ever witnessed.
The museum building was in the Scottish Baronial style, with two storeys and a tower and the overall height was 80 feet.
Much of the monument was destroyed by fire in November 2004. The iconic statue underwent an extensive cleaning and restoration programme in 2008 and was returned to its sandstone surroundings and new courtyard setting to form the centrepiece of the Burns Monument Centre.