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Empire, Slavery & Scotland's Museums

This project, sponsored by the Scottish Government, will explore how the story of Scotland’s involvement in the British Empire, colonialism, and transatlantic slavery, should be told using museum collections and spaces.

Empire, Slavery & Scotland's Museums

The social, economic, and cultural impacts of colonialism are entrenched in our society. Scotland’s museum sector is increasingly vocal in their commitment to use their collections to acknowledge and confront our history. This project, sponsored by the Scottish Government, will explore how the story of Scotland’s involvement in the British Empire, colonialism, and transatlantic slavery, should be told using museum collections.

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) recognises the impact that empire and colonialism has had on our institutions and their collections, and stands with anti-racist education worldwide. As the National Development Body for Scotland’s museums and galleries MGS has a responsibility to encourage and support museums to challenge and critically interrogate their own practices and collections.

This nationwide project will build on existing work from within the equalities sector and from across Scotland’s museums, to explore the mechanisms of how Scotland can confront challenging histories within museum spaces.

Led By Expert Advice

An independent Steering Group will recommend how Scotland’s existing and future museum collections and spaces can better recognise and represent a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history. The Group is independently chaired by Sir Geoff Palmer, renowned scientist and human rights activist.

The Group is representative of relevant expertise and community interests, and diverse in its membership.

The Group members are:

  • Sir Geoff Palmer (Chair)
  • Silence Chihuri (Fair Justice System for Scotland Group)
  • Catriona Davidson (Glencoe Folk Museum)
  • Abeer Eladany (University of Aberdeen)
  • Jatin Haria (Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights)
  • Lewis Hou (Science Ceilidh and The Anti-Racist Educator)
  • Parveen Ishaq (Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equalities Council), standing in for Foysol Choudhury
  • Churnjeet Mahn (Strathclyde University)
  • Steph Scholten (The Hunterian, ICOM Ethics Committee, MGS Board Member)
  • Elena Trimarchi (David Livingstone Centre)
  • Lisa Williams (Edinburgh Caribbean Association)
  • Zandra Yeaman (The Hunterian)

The Steering Group will be supported by a range of invited advisors, specialists in relevant related fields, who will lead working groups on specific areas of enquiry.

Click on these links to find the Project Overview and the Terms of Reference.