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Empire, Slavery & Scotland's Museums National Consultation Opens

Empire, Slavery & Scotland's Museums National Consultation Opens

Today a national consultation opens to listen to the views and experiences of people in Scotland.

Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums, a nationwide project, is currently taking place. This project is exploring the ways Scottish museums can help empower people to explore Scotland’s connections with empire, slavery and racism. The project gives people across the country the opportunity to shape Scotland’s museums.

For more than 200 years, Scotland's economy was closely tied to imperial trade and conquest. People from all over Scotland were participants in and drivers of the British Empire, both at home and overseas as politicians, businesses, traders, settlers, colonial administrators, soldiers, missionaries and forced migrants. The wealth generated from the systems of chattel slavery and colonialism enriched Scotland at the expense of the places which were colonised. The legacies of colonialism remain today as do strong links between Scotland and its international diaspora.

The project is sponsored by the Scottish Government and is overseen by an independent steering group, which is representative of relevant expertise and community interests, and diverse in its membership. The Group is chaired by Sir Geoff Palmer, renowned scientist and human rights activist.

The national consultation is part of the wider research profile of the Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums project. There are eight research elements that will input into the evidence for the Steering Group to make recommendations to the Scottish Government in 2022. The project's recommendations will ensure that Scotland's historical and contemporary connections with empire, slavery and racism are integral to the stories that museum audiences discover. This project is important to Scotland expanding and deepening its understanding of history in all its complexity.

Sir Geoff Palmer said:

“I am a descendant of chattel slaves who were enslaved in Jamaica, 1655-1838. Many of the slave plantations were owned by Scots and Scottish surnames dominate Jamaica’s telephone directory. It is a great honour to chair this history-based project which is sponsored by the Scottish Government. Please support this consultation process because its results will influence our recommendations to the Scottish Government. The aim is to improve the role which our museums and galleries play in informing the public of Scotland’s historical links to chattel slavery, empire and colonialism and the significant contributions Scotland’s black minority ethnic communities make to Scotland today.”

Abeer Eladany, Curatorial Assistant at University of Aberdeen Museums and Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums Steering Group member said:

“Museums throughout Scotland have collections which offer important insights into the country’s connections to the slave trade. It is vital that we, not only explore the stories that these collections hold but consider fully how best to share these with the public in a spirit of openness and transparency.

As part of that commitment, I am delighted that the public is being offered a say in how they would like museums to address issues and collections connected to slavery, empire, and colonialism, in museums across Scotland.

I would encourage everyone to click on the link and have their voice heard. What a fantastic way to be part of the democratic process that would influence the way museums in Scotland deal with such a complex and usually uncomfortable subject.”

Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said:

 “Museums should be inclusive and accessible spaces, where anyone is able to explore the more complex and challenging aspects of our history.

 “I am therefore pleased to support Museums Galleries Scotland in launching this important consultation. This is part of a wider two-year project, backed by £159,000 of Scottish Government funding, which delivers on our Programme for Government commitment to consider how Scotland’s colonial and slavery history is represented in Scotland’s museums.

 “I encourage everyone to take part to ensure diverse views from people all across Scotland are heard. These views will be essential as we continue our work to understand how museums and collections can better represent our shared past, and how that knowledge can help inform our future.”

Everyone in Scotland is encouraged to participate in the consultation at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ESSM1. The consultation is jointly run by Diffley Partnership and Intercultural Youth Scotland, and coordinated by the Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums project. The consultation is open until November.

 

Published 16 September 2021