Glasgow Life, which manages 11 museum sites, has appointed a curator to focus on the city’s links to the slave trade.
In his role as curator, legacies of slavery and empire, Miles Greenwood will work with colleagues to create new displays demonstrating how enslaved labour is “woven into the city’s physical environment and material culture”.
Glasgow Life said that the significance of the city’s links with slavery had been obscured in the 19th century and that as a result there are few objects directly relating to slavery in Glasgow’s museums.
Greenwood will also work with communities on a collaborative research programme “to reshape understandings of the connections between the slave trade and colonialism, and their contemporary legacies”.
And he will oversee a public programme of activities including talks, tours, and handling sessions.
Greenwood has recently worked in visitor studies at Paisley Museum, where his work included planning and delivering a Black history tour of the museum’s collection.
Before joining Paisley Museum, he worked at the audience research agency Morris Hargreaves McIntyre.
Councillor David McDonald, the chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Miles’ appointment will enable a step change in the way we are able to address the history of slavery and empire in Glasgow. By creating the post of curator, legacies of slavery and empire, we hope to send a powerful message about the city’s commitment to acknowledging our difficult past.
“We have already carried out a considerable amount of work in the area of slavery and empire, but having Miles lead our efforts will provide a sense of unity and make it easier for local communities to meaningfully engage.
“We understand Glasgow participated fully in the slavery economy, yet the journey of rediscovery and coming to terms with that participation is still in its infancy. There is still much to do and this appointment today will assist us in that vital journey.”
Greenwood said: “It’s an honour to take on what is a dream job for me. I’m looking forward to getting to know the collection, while enabling people to connect with their own histories and share their stories.
“Having a role in addressing the legacies of the British Empire and the trade in enslaved African people is incredibly important for me personally, but I also know these legacies impact a lot of people’s lives today, in Glasgow and around the world, so I hope I can do them justice.
“So many of our social, political and economic realities today are tied to the history of colonialism and the trade in enslaved African people. I hope this project will help people understand that connection in an interesting, often challenging, and even empowering way.”
The appointment was made with support from the Museums Galleries Scotland Development Fund.