A project creating Britain's first museum celebrating Black British history, art and culture.
The call for a Black Museum started decades ago with historians, activists, scholars and the likes of the late great Len Harrison, a co-founder of Black Cultural Archives (BCA). The Black British Museum Project is a collaboration of ideas, research, experimentation and critical thinking.
Through our online programme we will look at aspects of Black history, art and culture and the stories untold. We need to tell our stories or other people will tell them for us. This project is the initial phase of research galvanising voices, knowledge and expertise for a physical museum space. Future generations need to see the relevance of their history, ancestral labour and heritage in the making of Great Britain - a space to learn from the past to build a better future.
With over 250 museums in the UK, we need to understand the significance and contributions of black presence and experience across the British Isles. The Black British Museum Project calls for a balanced history of Britain that allows us to cry and smile – together.
Black British Museum Project Testimonials
Steve S.I. Martin
"The time for a Black British Museum is long overdue. From the Ivory Bangle Lady of 4th century York to the murder of Stephen Lawrence, people of African origin have impacted almost every aspect of British life including law, medicine, literature, music, the military, the built environment and social attitudes. In the late 18th century Black people based in Britain were prominent in the movement for the abolition of the slave trade. In the early 20th century the same demographic played a foundational role in the growth of Pan African thought and organisation.
A Black British Museum is needed to bring these histories and their connections to ongoing issues to the general public and to provide a 21st century platform the development of new Black British visions".
Dr Etienne Joseph
"We need more institutions led by people like us who understand our needs through lived experience. However, it is vital that any such institution should compliment, rather than replicate the important work of existing organisations working in this area. Sustainability and independence are also key concerns given the difficulties funding-dependent Black led organisations have faced historically. Careful thinking around business models is a necessity. Lastly, international connectivity is a must. The idea of a ‘Black British Museum’, unless approached with an Pan-African mindset, risks a parochial presentation of our history. In an age of connectivity and political gestures such as Ghana’s ‘year of return’, it is important that any such institution acknowledges Pan-African pasts, presents and futures - both through collection and collaboration."
I'm looking for a Black British Museum with space for contemplation and spiritual oneness. To memorialise and embrace cosmology and to feel free to honour our ancestors contributions and their dreams for us in the here and now. A place of real action, real change, galvanising likeminded people who share the same passion and views working together to create a new lens from which to focus on Black contributions.
A monument that is woke, democratic and has social justice at its centre. Built on Pan African ideology and Afro Futurism, replacing imperialism and colonialism as the new administrative constructs and the overall working system of fairness and inclusion. Adopts tangible collecting strategies for contemporary Africa and its diaspora. Moving away from White privilege art forms and cultural appropriation to those that engender national and international cultural exchanges. Including local community and vernacular archives that provide the material to present transformative and transformations democratically dispersed across gallery's that builds pride and resembles and features the narratives of its contributors."
Dr Elizabeth Williams
"It is well documented that the Black presence in Britain stretches at least from the Roman invasion of Britain. Archaeological finds leave us with no doubt that the African footprint in the British Isles is as significant as any other people group. This story needs to be told as more information comes to light. A museum dedicated to our stories and more importantly shining a spotlight on the contributions of African peoples to these septured Isles is long overdue and the time is now to provide the needed corrective."
A snapshot of comments and feedback from the Museums Association Conference 2019:
"It’s not a question, but just wanted to say that it’s about time. Black history is part of world history and everyone should learn more about it and connect with it. Well done! Wishing you all lots of success and bring on the change!"
"Does a Black British Museum let other museums off the hook of addressing their silencing of black people and structured racism? Or would it be a source of strength for others pushing for change in their own organisations?"
"Why do we have to follow the empirical model of a museum? Couldn’t a Black British Museum be one that encompasses a shared BAME experience of history, memory, objects, folklore, who we are as the people of the diaspora?"