Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool. Picture by Gareth Jones
The International Slavery Museum
welcomes the discussion around a London museum on slavery. The work we do here every day promotes education about this critical part of our UK and global history – which is by no means consigned to the past. Our very purpose is for more people to know, and confront, this history, so the more discussion about it, the better.
We opened in 2007 in recognition of the need for a major, national museum that addressed the UK’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies. Since opening, we have welcomed more than 4.5 million visitors. We hold the world’s first permanent modern slavery collection and have hosted over 250,000 visits by schoolchildren. The support for us in response to Sadiq Khan’s call for a London slavery museum has been quite overwhelming.
If the London museum proceeds, it should build on the work already done here at the existing International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, and the good work already established by many museums across the UK, including the Museum of London. Because the power of museums working together is immense. Together, we can do more, in areas that really matter during this critical time in our history, when many are deeply –and rightly - worried about the future of human rights.
For our own part at the International Slavery Museum, we have achieved a lot - but there is still so much more we want and need to do, to serve our community and our visitors. We need more funding to support our ambitions and increase our reach. We are seeking to expand the Museum to create a prominent entrance on Liverpool’s historic waterfront. And to reinforce the Museum’s, and the UK’s, position nationally and internationally as a world leader in the fight against modern slavery.
We wish to continue working with the many museums across the UK who are already doing great work to explore this part of our history. Together we can offer a fantastic country-wide resource, exploring shared and different regional histories and aspects of slavery, of which there are many: from chattel slavery to human trafficking and modern slavery and exploring today’s legacies of the transatlantic slave trade: racism and hate crime. And I’m pleased to confirm we are in contact with Sadiq Khan’s office.
So, yes - let’s discuss how London recognises the history of slavery. But don’t forget about the regions and the knowledge here. Not all our National Museums, national collections or nation’s stories are, or should be, solely in the capital.
Find out more about us. Everyone is invited to our events on 22 and 23 August as we mark Slavery Remembrance Day for the 20th year in Liverpool.