This year from the 22 – 23 August the International Slavery Museum will be leading on the city’s 18th Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations during our 10th anniversary. This has become a key date not only in the calendar of the Museum, but nationally, with people coming from around the UK to engage with a series of contemplative, commemorative and celebratory events. On Tuesday 22nd the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building will host the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, named in honour of a friend of the Museum, tireless anti-slavery campaigner and historian who sadly passed in 2013.
The keynote speaker at our annual event is someone who focuses on a historical theme, and possibly challenge often accepted narratives of history, in a constructive and inspiring way or someone who like the Museum campaigns against issues of social injustices. That is why this years speaker, Dr Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation and mother to Anthony, a young Black man brutally murdered in a racist attack in 2005 is an ideal speaker. I know Gee personally and it is quite extraordinary that her heart is not filled with hate but hope. It is therefore an honour to act as a trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation that aims to promote racial harmony through education, sport and the arts, promoting the celebration of diversity and personal integrity and the realisation of potential of all young people
I am looking forward to hearing Gee talk about Anthony and her work and her daughters Dominique and Stephanie who have been integral to the work of the Foundation and championing hate crime reporting in the city. Dominique once made one of the most moving statements I have heard in my role when she described the Anthony Walker Education Centre located within the Museum as “My brother’s room”. This showed how important our work is. Dominique and Stephanie will be part of a Q & A chaired by BBC Radio Merseyside Producer and Presenter Ngunan Adamu.
We have many free events over the two days but one of the most important is the libation ceremony which remembers and pays homage to the ancestors, many taken from their families, friends and homelands in Africa as part of the barbarous transatlantic slave trade that helped build many cities such as Liverpool. I hope you can join us.
See the full programme of all our Slavery Remembrance Day events here.
The International Slavery Museum is 10. We have had such a journey, done so many things, and met so many people; been involved in controversies, and literally changed people’s lives. So how do you write a blog about all that? Well it’s difficult, so let me take you back to 2008 when we launched our 1st anniversary exhibition rather unsurprisingly titled We Are One. As part of the introduction text I wrote the following:
Integral to the Museum’s interpretation of the story of transatlantic slavery is a belief that Africans, despite their oppression, were the main agents of their own liberation. We hope we represent their stories faithfully. The Museum also sees itself as an active campaigner against racism and discrimination today, and we work closely with a number of human rights organisations. Our Education Centre is named in memory of Anthony Walker, the Black Liverpool teenager who was murdered in 2005…We hope you have been inspired positively by your visit today.
I believe we have been faithful to those words in our first 10 years because I, and our small dedicated team, have continually strived for that. I remember meeting Presidents, famous personalities, speaking at UNESCO in Paris and the UN in New York.
I am proud of our partnerships with NGOs and human rights organisations such as Anti-Slavery International, I am proud and honoured to know and work with people like Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation, and mother of Anthony, I am proud to have made close friendships with many members of the Liverpool Black community, some critical friends, but all who believe in what we do and have supported us on our journey; the late Dorothy Kuya, Eric Lynch, Dr Ray Costello, Councilor Anna Rothery, Michelle Charters and many other historians, activists and community figures, they know who they are. The list of our work and achievements is long, diverse, and powerful.
At the heart of our Museum are real people working conscientiously within a difficult area whilst actively fighting the legacies of transatlantic slavery too. This is not easy, not many museums do it, and so I say to all the people who read this blog who have not visited the Museum to do so, and to keep up to date with our plans, such as opening the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. building, the iconic building on the Albert Dock, as part of the Museum. Not everyone agrees with what we do, or how we do it but one thing I do know, if the Museum is not here in 10 years time the city and this country will be a worse place for it. So please, join us on our journey and in the words of the great Curtis Mayfield “Keep On, Keepin’ On”.
Keiko Gordon will be delivering kimono demonstrations at the Lady Lever Art Gallery at 2pm on 2nd and 16th September as part of our Edo Pop: Japanese print exhibition programme. Pre-booking is essential and tickets are now available for both sessions for free.
2nd September – fully booked
16th September – fully booked
You can add your name to the waiting list, in case of any cancellations by clicking the links.
Keiko’s beautiful handmade accessories, which are made from kimonos are on sale in the Gallery shop.
Dr Emma Pomeroy from Liverpool John Moores University reveals all about some exciting discoveries in World Museum’s collections.
We’re excited to announce a new collaborative project led by researchers from the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University and World Museum. The project will radiocarbon date five human teeth and part of a jawbone from World Museum’s collections. These all come from the same site that yielded the oldest known human remains from north-west Europe. These teeth and jaw could be important evidence for some of the earliest members of our species in
Kent’s Cavern, near Torquay in Devon, has been known as an important paleontological and archaeological site since it was first excavated in the 19th century. Various people have excavated the caves, most notably William Pengelly who worked there from 1858-1880, and excavations continue today. As well as bones from Ice Age animals like rhinoceros, bears, hyenas and lions, and stone tools produced by early humans, various fragments of human bones and teeth were also found in this network of caves. Some of these human bones are relatively recent, dating to the Medieval period or later, while others such as the KC-4 maxilla (upper jaw bone) date as far back as 43-42,000 years ago.
Some of these finds found their way to World Museum in the 1940s, following the death of Willoughby Ellis. He had volunteered at the Torquay Museum where much of the Kent’s Material is still kept, and obtained a significant quantity of the finds from the excavations at Kent’s. During his life and after his death, these bones and artefacts found their way into museum and University collections around the UK and beyond.
After visiting the World Museum collections in April, Dr Isabelle De Groote and I, both human bone specialists from Liverpool John Moores University, realised that the Kent’s human remains at World Museum had not been described in scientific publications before. Recognising these could be important evidence of the earliest humans in this part of the world, we won a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council to radiocarbon date the specimens at the University of Oxford’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). Professor Higham and his team dated the KC-4 maxilla from Kent’s Cavern, which is still the oldest evidence of our species in the UK.
While we’re very excited, we’re bracing ourselves for a real roller-coaster ride!
Radiocarbon dating will only work if the organic part of the teeth and bone are well enough preserved. While methods for radiocarbon dating continue to improve, it’s not been possible to date some remains from Kent’s in the past. The famous KC-4 maxilla from the site, the oldest human remains in north-west Europe, could not be dated directly, only by dating animal bones found above and below it.
But even if we can date the teeth, we already know that some human remains from Kent’s are very recent, so it’s possible that these are just a few hundred year old. Much of the material excavated by Pengelly was assigned a number so that its precise location in the cave can be identified to within less than a metre. This approach was really pioneering for archaeological excavations at Pengelly’s time. If we knew where in the cave the teeth and jaw came from, that would give us an idea of roughly how old they might be. Unfortunately, this information on the human remains from the World Museum collections must have been lost long ago.
Nonetheless, we do have a few clues. The oldest material from Kent’s Cavern (before 10,000 years ago) was found in a distinct red-coloured deposit (soil), and one of the WML teeth has traces of a similar coloured soil still stuck to it.
The other specimens have traces of a much more brown coloured soil on them, suggesting they might be younger. Several of the teeth have large cavities, which tend to be more common in people who lived within the last few thousand years than in people who lived much longer ago. The only way to be really sure how old the remains are though is to radiocarbon date them.
Even if the teeth and jaw prove to be more recent, that is important information too. Once we know how old they are, they can be used for research about people and their health at that particular time.
In honour of International Left-Handers Day (13 August) our Internal Communications Officer, Emma Kuttappa, talks about why she will be celebrating this Sunday –
I’m fiercely proud of being left-handed, its part of what makes me who I am. I’m lucky to have been brought up by parents who didn’t challenge it or try to change me. Historically for many others though, this wasn’t the case. Being left-handed was considered ‘wrong’ and associated with evil; southpaws were considered to be ‘children of the Devil’ (such a wicked thing to make children grow up believing that, I’m still outraged even if it may have been centuries ago!). Read more…
Can you believe it’s August? With friends and family jetting off on exotic holidays and the parks full of children enjoying their summer break, it hardly seems like the right time to start talking about Christmas. But at National Museums Liverpool, we’re talking about Christmas all year round, whether it’s our innovative team of chefs planning next years festive dinners, or our award-winning events team sourcing decorations for our unique venues. But with only 100 days to go until our first all-inclusive festive party, the pace is really beginning to pick up. Read more…
In my blog on Monday, marking the start of the Third Battle of Ypres, I mentioned that Noel Chavasse had received a second Victoria Cross award, for his actions in the first days of the Battle.
Noel Chavasse is a well known local War hero and I often find myself saying that he was awarded for bravery, but don’t always have the opportunity to give the actual details of what he did: Read more…
This Saturday (5 August), come and explore self-publishing as a creative method of activism in our free workshop on zine-making! Inspired by our Art of Solidarity exhibition, which closes this weekend. Here, Seleena Laverne Daye, who will be running the event, blogs about zines, identity and activism: Read more…
As we come to the final weeks of Art of Solidarity, an exhibition of vibrant Cuban posters from the 1960s and 70s showing solidarity with African liberation movements including the opposition to South African Apartheid and Angola’s fight for independence, we will be taking inspiration from these revolutionary Cuban poster artists to offer visitors the opportunity to participate in events that aim to further explore the capacity of art forms to be a powerful tool of activism and a means to create dialogue.
“For the closing weekend of Art of Solidarity, we will be exploring activism through self- publishing, in an artist-led workshop delivered by Manchester based zine-maker Seleena Laverne Daye.
“A zine is a small circulation, self- published work, normally produced very cheaply using a photocopier and distributed through friends, fairs or by sale online. A zine can cover any topic from politics, popular culture, film, photography, history, food to perzines (personal zines), which focus on the individual experiences of the writer. Due to the lack of censorship within this medium, zines can also offer their authors an empowering platform to challenge established narratives and share their views with others, arguably forming an important record of social history that may explore viewpoints that are marginalised in mainstream media channels.
“Author of DIY publications ‘Poor Lass’ and ‘Brown Girl’, Seleena’s zines explore topics related to race, class and gender:
“Growing up as a working class woman of colour, I aim, through my art and zines, to create a space for working class people and women of colour. To be able to tell and share their stories in their own voices, as they so often don’t get the chance to.” – Seleena Laverne Daye
“We are delighted to welcome Seleena to International Slavery Museum on Saturday 5th August to discuss the activism within her own zines and art, share some of her favourite zines and explain how to get involved in making and distributing DIY publications. Visitors will also have the chance to begin their own zine projects and make a badge to take away too!
Seleena’s zine-making workshop will take place on Saturday 5th August 1-3pm. Free but booking is advised due to limited places.
We will also be offering a tour of Art of Solidarity before this workshop at 12.30pm
If you are interested in finding out more about zine culture, our closest zine library is Salford Zine Library, a unique archive of self published materials housed at Nexus Art Café in Manchester, where visitors can find over 1500 publications to browse.
Look out for Wednesday’s special blog, from Seleena Laverne Daye , who is running the zine workshop!