MGS opens slavery and empire consultation - Museums Association

MGS opens slavery and empire consultation

Research part of Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums project
Decolonising Museums
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Simon Stephens
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The Trans-Africa Expedition Room at the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, Blantyre, South Lanarkshire
The Trans-Africa Expedition Room at the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, Blantyre, South Lanarkshire Kat Gollock

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has opened a consultation on people’s views and experiences of the legacy of slavery and empire.

The consultation is linked a nationwide project that is looking at the ways Scottish museums can help empower people to explore Scotland’s connections with empire, slavery and racism. The Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums project is sponsored by the Scottish Government and is overseen by an independent steering group led by chair by Geoff Palmer, the scientist and human rights activist.

“I am a descendant of chattel slaves who were enslaved in Jamaica,” Palmer said. “Many of the slave plantations were owned by Scots and Scottish surnames dominate Jamaica’s telephone directory.

“The aim [of the consultation] is to improve the role which our museums and galleries play in informing the public of Scotland’s historical links to chattel slavery, empire and colonialism and the significant contributions Scotland’s black minority ethnic communities make to Scotland today.”

The steering group, which is gathering evidence from a wide variety of sources, will make recommendations to the Scottish Government in 2022.

Abeer Eladany, the curatorial assistant at University of Aberdeen Museums and a member of the steering group, said: “Museums throughout Scotland have collections which offer important insights into the country’s connections to the slave trade. It is vital that we, not only explore the stories that these collections hold but consider fully how best to share these with the public in a spirit of openness and transparency.

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“As part of that commitment, I am delighted that the public is being offered a say in how they would like museums to address issues and collections connected to slavery, empire, and colonialism, in museums across Scotland.”

Meanwhile MGS has also announced new plans to address sector digital skills gaps. Two programmes, Digital Literacy for Leadership and Talking Digital: Coaching Conversations for Digital Confidence will be delivered through MGS Skills Academy.

Further information about the two programmes can be found on the MGS website.

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