Well I hope you all had a happy holiday period and managed to relax. I certainly did. I spent several days back home in dear old Yorkshire. Always nice to catch up with the family.
The International Slavery Museum has an exciting series of events and programmes throughout the year, from a US Black History Month event in February to Slavery Remembrance Day in August. We also have Shoot Nations, an exciting new photographic exhibition focusing on global environmental issues through the eyes of young people, starting on 17 January. This is one of a series of exhibitions which highlight issues in the museum galleries – from global inequalities to racism, discrimination and identity. So watch this space for news about upcoming exhibitions.
Ii is now full steam ahead with our planning for phase two of the museum. We are working closely with the architects who will shortly be coming back to me and the team with their initial plans and thoughts. This is an incredibly exciting time to be working at this museum as it offers me and my colleagues the opportunity to have some input into what really could be the world’s leading educational and research centre on the subject of slavery. We are not doing this alone though. I am regularly in contact with international partners who also to some degree focus on slavery. One such institution is the Nantes History Museum.
In December we were visited by Bertrand Guillet, chief heritage curator for the museum. Bertrand was very impressed with the International Slavery Museum and we are looking at how our two institutions can work together, particularly in the field of educational resources. Staying on a French theme I also got to see the magazine article written about Lilian Thuram’s visit to the museum. Hopefully we can take things forward with him and his new organisation.
I have also been in contact with several Polish colleagues whose institutions focus on the many atrocities which took place in Poland during WWII such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, both of which I have visited. One way we are looking to strengthen links with institutions such as these is to develop a forum for museum professionals who work in this area and other forms of genocide and human rights abuses and issues. I will keep you updated on this challenging and progressive venture.
I visited both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau with a colleague when we stayed in Krakow last year and we were not only moved by the exhibitions and displays in the museum but by the sheer size of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It was hard to comprehend on a bright sunny day just what happened and it only really hit me on my return. I took many photos, some quite distressing, of the trip which I feel need to be shown. I might include these in a future blog. What it did do was make me even more determined that our museum will not be a neutral one but take a stance on contemporary issues and challenge attitudes and injustices that still exist today.
Bye for now.