An event at the British Museum for Refugee Week 2016 (c) Denisa Silas

Museums to hold events for Refugee Week

Jonathan Knott, 13.06.2017
Participating institutions include the V&A and the British Museum
Museums across the country will be holding events next week celebrating and promoting understanding of refugees in Britain.

Refugee Week
, which runs from 19 to 25 June, will include hundreds of arts, cultural and educational events across the UK, organised by different groups and organisations. The week is coordinated by Counterpoints Arts.

A spokeswoman for Refugee Week said that the number of museums taking part would exceed the 12 that were involved last year.

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is holding several events, including the Living Library, where refugees, asylum seekers and torture survivors will speak about their experiences.

The Migration Collective, which is organising the event, says that it will give people the chance “to engage in a real dialogue with migrants and refugees of different backgrounds and walks of life”.

Other events set to take place at the V&A include performances of songs from the Levant, sets from migrant DJs inspired by the museum’s collections, and talks discussing the role of museums in the migration crisis.

An event on 25 June at the British Museum will feature music, art installations, workshops and a film programme.

Manchester Museum will be displaying art created by young refugees and holding an event contributing to Sixty Million Trebles, an ongoing crocheting and knitting project making blankets for refugees around the world.

The Love is not a Crime exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, which has been running since April, is also part of Refugee Week. The display was created by a local group of lesbian and bisexual asylum seekers and refugees and their supporters. It explores the history of the group and the challenges faced by LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.

Other participating museums include the National Maritime Museum, Swansea Waterfront Museum, and the Oriental Museum in Durham.

And the Museum Hour Twitter discussion on Monday 19 June will be dedicated to Refugee Week.

Maurice Wren, the chairman of Refugee Week and chief executive of the Refugee Council, said that the week would provide a timely reminder that people have far more in common with each other than they have differences.

"We must never allow the language of demonisation and hate to corrode Britain’s proud tradition of welcoming and protecting refugees," said Wren. "Instead, by making the UK an inclusive place of safety for those fleeing persecution, we must demonstrate that empathy and compassion are hallmarks of a strong society.”

Almir Koldzic, the co-director of Counterpoints Arts, said that Refugee Week provided an opportunity for museums to present the stories of less visible histories and communities.

"Museums play a hugely important role in highlighting contributions of refugees within the fabric of British heritage and history, inviting us to better understand and articulate the benefits of providing welcome and support to people escaping war and persecution," said Koldzic.