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Another great year for the International Slavery Museum

21 December 2009 by Richard

woman holding a certificate

Rebecca Watkin, curator of transatlantic slavery, with the 2009 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize certificate, in front of the Trafficked exhibition

Hello thereWell it has been another great year for the museum in so many ways, not least the fact we have now had over 850,000 visitors, but it has also been challenging, thought provoking and indeed humbling. There have been many highlights and some not so highlights of 2009. We were extremely proud that we achieved an Honourable Mention as part of the 2009 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence which rewards significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural or communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence.  It showed the museum was seen as a human rights campaigner by its peers. We also made the final of the National Lottery Good Causes awards and the European Museum of the Year awards in Bursa, Turkey.  We did not win but it was still a significant achievement for a museum which is only 2 years old.  We have hosted several very successful exhibitions including Black Britiannia and Trafficked and been visited by a host of important, interesting and often well known people such as the civil rights activist Diane Nash, who give the annual Slavery Remembrance Day memorial lecture, and the Liverpool boxing legend John Conteh. In February Richard LeBaron, Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy and Simon Woolley, national co-ordinator of Operation Black Vote, unveiled a plaque of President Barack Obama. Added to all this we continue to offer a vibrant learning programme which is both original and often groundbreaking.  There have unfortunately been some less celebratory events. In particular the loss of John Hope Franklin, one of the most important American historians of the 20th century and a great advocate of the International Slavery Museum. He will be fondly remembered by myself and all those fortunate to have met him. The year shockingly also saw the British National Party gain a degree of political kudos by winning seats at the European elections. Rather than sit idly by I hope that like the museum you support the Hope Not Hate campaign and make a stand against such organisations.Looking ahead I am convinced that International Slavery Museum will have an exciting, challenging and successful 2010. We are planning many events, for instance on 18 January (Martin Luther King Day in the US) we will be showing the film ‘Boycott’ about the 1955 Montgomery Bus boycott as a mark of respect. The inaugural Federation of Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) conference will also be held at the International Slavery Museum, which will bring together some of the leading human rights museums and institutions across the globe to see how we can work together to challenge issues such as racism and discrimination and the rise of the far right. The museum will continue to support Black History Month in October and there will be the annual Slavery Remembrance Day events. In March we will be launching a new exhibition called Beyond the Boundary which explores the relationship between cricket, culture, class and politics. There will be much much more so watch this space. By for now and I hope that many of you have a visit to the museum as one of your New Year resolutions!

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