Michelle Charters awarded OBE

Head of International Slavery Museum recognised in 2024 King’s Birthday Honours

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Michelle Charters, Head of International Slavery Museum, has been awarded an OBE for services to the community in Liverpool in the 2024 King's Birthday Honours list.

Michelle said: 

I accepted this as a recognition of the collective efforts of my community and the many individuals who have supported me along the way. As a Black person, this honour holds significant meaning, reflecting the progress we are making towards greater equity and representation, especially in my current role as Head of International Slavery Museum at National Museums Liverpool.

I acknowledge the historical significance of being a Black recipient of the OBE and its part of a broader narrative of inclusion, which will empower me and my community in providing an enhanced platform to amplify our voice, extend our reach, and achieve even more. It will also inspire others from the community and show young Black people in particular that success is attainable.

A Liverpool-born community activist, Michelle is leading the International Slavery Museum through a £58m redevelopment project (which also includes the Maritime Museum), that aims to make the venue a global leader in understanding and exploring the impact and legacies of historic and modern slavery.

Michelle has been an advocate for National Museums Liverpool since she was first introduced to the Transatlantic Slavery Gallery at the Maritime Museum in 1994. Before moving into her new role she sat on National Museums Liverpool’s board as a trustee for five years and is a member of the RESPECT group, established in 2008.

For 18 years Michelle was CEO of Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre in Toxteth, Liverpool. The multi-purpose centre was the vision of the Liverpool Black Sisters, an organisation formed in the 1970s to address the many forms of discrimination experienced by the Black community in the area.

Michelle is also the founding chair of the Merseyside Black History Month Group, the first Black woman to be appointed a trustee of the Everyman and Playhouse Theatres and chair of the ‘Eric Scott Lynch Slavery Heritage Trail’.

More information on National Museums Liverpool’s Waterfront Transformation Project:

Spanning the area between the Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island, the Waterfront Transformation Project involves key landmarks such as International Slavery Museum (ISM) and Maritime Museum (MM), Canning Quaysides and Dry Docks, as well as multiple smaller dockside buildings.

Central to the project is the £58m redevelopment of Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building (MLK), expanding ISM into this space and giving it its own front door. The National Lottery Heritage Fund Horizon Award awarded £9.9m to help realise these ambitions, which also extend into the Maritime Museum. In March 2024 it was also announced the project would receive £10m from The Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Additionally, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority gave £185,000 of pre-development funding as part of their work to tackle racial divides in the city and this has also helped take forward the first stop of the Waterfront Transformation Project. 

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International Slavery Museum

The International Slavery Museum opened in August 2007 and is the only national museum in the world to cover the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies, as well as contemporary forms of slavery. It is also an international hub for resources on human rights issues and campaigning.  

The museum is currently situated on the third floor of the Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool. However, as part of National Museums Liverpool’s Waterfront Transformation Project, there are plans for a new front door at the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building, which will lead to spaces to explore and investigate transatlantic slavery, its legacies, and other forms of slavery and human rights issues.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded ISM £9.9m through its Heritage Horizon awards to help realise these ambitions which will also extend into the Maritime Museum. In March 2024 it was also announced the project would receive £10million from The Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

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National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool (NML) comprises seven venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attracted more than 2.5 million visitors in 2023.

Our venues are Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Sudley House and Lady Lever Art Gallery. National Museums Liverpool is regulated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).