Building antiracist practices

Manchester Museum recognises racism is prevalent in society, and we stand in solidarity with Black communities in the US and UK to fight against it. We are committed to accountability in our practices and visibility in our work tackling systemic and institutional racism.  Every month, we post an update on our work.  We know that we must do more, and we will continue to raise the voices of those fighting to support the cause #BlackLivesMatterUK #Solidarity

July 2020

It has been a month since Blackout Tuesday & anti-racism is at the forefront of our thinking, we are committed to long term action. For the past month we've been:

  • Listening

  • Reading, watching  and learning

  • Sharing resources #BlackLivesMatter The Things They Didn't Teach Us

  • Reviewing internal structures through a museum-wide group based on social justice and equity

  • Amplifying the work and voices of Black artists and activists

  • Building on and developing new collaborations with academics and students the University of Manchester including @DecoloniseUoM

  • We're committed to decolonising and indigenising collections with a focus on lived experience informed by the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  

  • A new anti-racist learning program begins mid-July, with local and international partnerships and collaborations

  • @OSCH_Mcr young people have been sharing anti-racist statements online to bring change, discussing #colourism & impact on community & identity, and learning about anti-racism through the #kickthedust @DecoloniseUoM Radical Readers Group 

  • We are launching a podcast in August to share & track our progress to ensure we are transparent.

August 2020

August 2020

On Blackout Tuesday, we made a commitment to share, each month, our actions and efforts in tackling systemic racism, building antiracist practices and supporting #BlackLivesMatter.

  • Continuing to listen, read, learn and share

  • We are undertaking a decolonising audit of our displays to identify areas to address immediately & for future work. A blog critiquing our current displays, in partnership by undergraduates at University of Manchester & Hong Kong University, to be published as we reopen on 16 September.

  • We’ve announced an Indigenising Manchester Museum programme supported by John Ellerman Foundation and advertised a new role, Curator of Indigenous Perspectives.

  • We are working hard to ensure our recruitment practices are inclusive and connect with a wide audience.

  • We participated in 'A Conversation for Change', a Manchester-wide event on #BLM, convened by Manchester International Festival Young People’s Forum to discuss how to bring about change in the arts sector in Manchester in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

  • We are scheduling our first series of podcasts for the autumn, exploring the role of museums in the fight for a more just world. This will amplify and bring new voices from beyond the museum to discuss social, environmental, and racial justice in Manchester and beyond.

  • We've been thinking and talking about racism. During #SAHM #OSCH young people organised a community discussing the links between colonialism, colourism and racism. We will share further anti-racist reading and undertaking anti-racism training across Manchester Museum in the coming weeks.

September 2020

This month we reopened to the public, and it has been vitally important that our work of tackling systemic racism and building anti-racist practices continues both online and in the Museum.

  • This blog post includes links to podcasts produced by students at University of Manchester & Hong Kong University which critique our current displays and the continuing cultural influence of the British Empire:

  • Before reopening we undertook a review of our galleries. It highlighted the stories we fail to tell and perspectives we don’t share; especially those of Black and Indigenous people. We are starting to tell some of these stories.

  • We have reopened our Minerals exhibition, where visitors can explore some previously hidden stories, including the South African Witwatersrand gold rush which began in 1886 and was central to colonial power.

  • In October we will launch Manchester Museum’s podcast. The first series will have a clear focus on colonial history, with our first episode featuring Kwame Boateng from The Black Curriculum scheduled to hit the airwaves during #BlackHistoryMonth

  • The Benin Tusk is back on display and visitors are invited to think about the violence of its theft in 1897 and join the conversation about where it belongs. Inua Ellams reading his poem ‘Tusk’ was a highlight of Manchester Literature Festival 2019. We will bring the poem onto gallery following #MLF20

  • We made a Creative Callout: during #BlackHistoryMonth, Manchester Museum opened up its digital platform to amplify Black creatives. We welcomed all proposals!

October 2020

We believe Black history should be taught and remembered throughout the year. It’s more than a month.

  • We released the first episode of the Manchester Museum Podcast. Special guest Kwame Boateng from @CurriculumBlack talks about the power of storytelling and the importance of getting Black history taught in schools 365 days of the year. #TBH365. Listen:

  • This month the Manchester Museum Young Collective, @OSCH_Mcr have been sharing reading recommendations to inspire their peers and heritage staff who are actively seeking out ways to better understand and act for social justice and social change. Read:

  • Curator David Gelsthorpe has continued research into the role of empire and Indigenous peoples in our mineral collection. His paper at the NatSCA Conference ‘Decolonising Natural Science Collections’ in November will tell some of these stories for the first time.

  • And finally, this month the Museum launched a Creative Call to amplify black voices and stories. We are looking to support new programmes, projects or events that respond to #BlackHistoryMonth.

November 2020

Every month we continue to share our actions and progress. This is part of our commitment to transparency and accountability in our practices and visibility in our work tackling systemic and institutional racism. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatterUK

  • We extended our Creative Call Out for 'Black History Month and Beyond' until the end of November to inspire creativity throughout the second Lockdown. We have received some fantastic, diverse proposals and we are looking forward to supporting some of these new projects in 2021.

  • The young people of @OSCH_Mcr presented a truly inspiring session at the Fair Museum Jobs Summit, talking about their involvement in the recruiting of staff, the #KickTheDust project, and how they are giving #YoungPeople a voice in museums. #FMJSummit

  • This month we were delighted to share the launch of the #DevolvingRestitution Project, in which we will be working with partners in Africa and the UK. We look forward to deepened connections & purposeful dialogue around the return of African heritage.

  • For the Being Human Festival, Manchester Museum held 2 #HackTheMuseum workshops. Led by Emma Martin, the workshops helped #YoungPeople develop skills to provide alternative narratives to colonial collections. Find out more:

  • And earlier this month, Curator David Gelsthorpe presented his research at @Nat_SCA Decolonising Natural Science Collections Conference. This ground-breaking paper was a call to action to decolonise mineral collections and research. Watch:

January 2021

We are committed to transparency and accountability in our practices and visibility in our work tackling systemic and institutional racism. This is a thread with our latest updates and actions.

  • Upcoming next week, we are supporting Project INC. students' campaign to celebrate Manchester's black heritage, creativity and culture, also supported by @sendcoders, @JonesRenardo, @GMCA and @GMAutism

  • @OSCH_Mcr will be hosting workshops, ‘Whose Statues? Whose Stories?’ the first two of which will take place in February. The workshops will invite #YoungPeople to share stories about statues that matter to them. #OSCH #KickTheDust

  • Following our Creative Call Out for 'Black History Month and Beyond', we will be supporting six creative outputs throughout the year. We are working with the artists and contributors, and we are aiming to have the first of these ready to launch in February.

  • The session presented by the brilliant #YoungPeople of @OSCH_Mcr at the @fair_jobs Summit is now available to watch online; find out about their involvement in the recruiting of staff and the #KickTheDust project. #FMJSummit

  • Earlier this month we were delighted to announce the appointment of Alexandra Alberda in our new role of Curator of Indigenous Perspectives, funded by @EllermanUK, part of our Indigenising Manchester Museum project, Alexandra Alberda, as we work towards change and reconciliation.

February 2021

In February, we have continued in our commitment to tackle institutional racism, build antiracist practices and support #BlackLivesMatter. This is a thread with our latest updates and actions.

  • This month we supported @ProjectINCuk students' campaign to celebrate Manchester's Black Heritage, showcasing the creative work of local talented people. Also supported by @sendcoders, @JonesRenardo, @greatermcr and @GMAutismC. Artwork: @Venessascott_uk

  • The brilliant young people @OSCH_Mcrhave hosted the first of their series of workshops, ‘Whose Statues? Whose Stories?’ The workshops invite #YoungPeople to share stories about statues that matter to them. #OSCH #KickTheDust

  • Our learning team are shaping our formal teaching programmes to incorporate themes of decolonisation. The importance of this work was reiterated when the team participated in the @gem_heritageworkshop ‘Decolonising the Curriculum and Museum Learning’ this month.

  • As part of our #MMhellofuture transformation, we are creating our first multifaith room. This month we’ve been working with the young people of @OSCH_Mcr and @mlmanchester to shape the project brief for this new space.

March 2021

We remain as committed as ever to anti-racism in our work. A thread with our latest actions:

  • We are delighted to announce our support for @Afzal4Gorton's Diverse Curriculum Charter in collaboration with @CurriculumBlack 

  • This month on our #Podcast we spoke with Congolese human rights activist and refugee Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu. He talked honestly and openly about his experiences and how museums can offer a platform for people to learn about the experiences of refugees.

  • On 8 April, our Director Esme Ward will be part of ‘Benin City, Burning’ @TheLondonLib, a discussion around history, legacy and restitution. Inua Ellams will also read his poetry sequence, commissioned by Manchester Museum and @McrLitFest. Read ‘Tusk’:

  • Finally, we have been working hard preparing the recruitment of a new Curator of Living Cultures, with a clear commitment to restitution, thinking in public and pro-actively identifying contested material as part of our duty of care. The role will be advertised in April 2021.