The event is being co-sponsored by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as part of the legacy programme from the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
Key to the talks will be exploring how African heritage can be represented though collections, exhibitions and education programmes. British museums will present their work on Bicentenary-themed exhibitions and on the international partnerships they are developing with African collections.
Participants from museums in Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Oxford will be joined by colleagues from The British Museum, Horniman Museum and National Maritime Museum. Sector leaders from Angola, the Bahamas, Barbados, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa will also have an opportunity to spell out the support that they need to improve their Museum collections reflecting the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge said: “This year people across the UK have visited many of the thought-provoking exhibitions in our museums, galleries and archives marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade and over the course of the year we have seen a more informed debate emerge around the intensely powerful issue of slavery.
“Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) announced last week that 11 to 14 year olds across the country will, for the first time, study the impact of slavery and the slave trade on our history and culture. However, this learning should not stop at the school gates, nor should it be confined to our shores. I am delighted to see this conference bringing together museum professionals from around the world with a vision of a more inclusive, more informed and more effective sector, both here and overseas.”
Asif Khan, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Senior Policy Adviser, said: “Museums across the country have played a leading role in reconciling Britain with the slave trade and its imperial and colonial history. Through working with global partners museums can revisit, reinterpret and reconstruct our national identity.”
David Spence, director of the Museum in Docklands, said: “The building now occupied by the Museum in Docklands was built specifically for the slave trade. It is appropriate therefore that the Museum hosts this international conference to focus on future collaborations between countries changed by this shared history.”
Notes to the Editor.
*Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) is the lead strategic agency for museums, libraries and archives. We are part of the wider MLA Partnership, working with the nine regional agencies to improve people’s lives by building knowledge, supporting learning, inspiring creativity and celebrating identity. The Partnership acts collectively for the benefit of the sector and the public, leading the transformation of museums, libraries and archives for the future.
*MLA was launched in April 2000 as the strategic body working with and for museums, archives and libraries, tapping into the potential for collaboration between them. The new organisation replaced the Museums and Galleries Commission (MGC) and the Library and Information Commission (LIC), and includes archives within its portfolio. The MLA Partnership was launched in 2006.
*On 10 November 2007, Museum in Docklands will open the only permanent gallery in London that examines the city’s involvement in transatlantic slavery and its legacy on the capital. ‘London, Sugar and Slavery’, will reveal how London’s involvement in slaving has shaped the capital since the 17th century, and will challenge what people think they know about the transatlantic slave trade, its abolition and effect on Londoners today. It will debunk the myth that London was a minor player in the trade by showing that it funded much of the city’s industrial and financial success. From Jamaica Road to the Bank of England, from the merchant houses of Blackheath to the nation’s art collections, profits from this most lucrative trade shaped the metropolis. For more information please see www.museumindocklands.org.uk