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If walls could talk…

17 October 2013 by Richard

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Barbican Estate, London

Hello, First of all, please do check out our diverse list of Black History Month activities including several related to our most recent exhibition British dance: Black routes. There will also be a Centre for the Study of International Slavery CSIS talk on the legacies of slavery, memory and identity in Liverpool at the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre on 22nd October.

After a very successful event in the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. building on 28 August we are now in the process of giving the building a facelift – one that will allow us to host more public events. It’s already a striking space but when we have attained funding to open up our state-of-the-art education and resource centre 7 days a week it really will be a magnificent space. It will be the front door to ISM with everything from community and education spaces to a family history centre, mediatheque (modeled on one I saw at the Pompidou Centre in Paris) plus a collections centre where we will have ISM’s latest acquisitions on display.

It will be a truly massive transition for the building itself, never mind me and the staff. And I’m sure if the walls could talk they would have some interesting stories. From opening as an administrative building in the 19th century and having the rather technical name of the Dock Traffic Office, to becoming the Granada TV studios in the 1986 the metamorphosis is almost complete. Whilst I write this blog I can hear bangs, drills, and various other noises not particularly conducive to work. However, it really is the sound of progress and hopefully in November we can host the first public event in the shining new atrium, so watch this space.

Other news – I gave a talk at the 2013 MuseumsIdeas conference in the Museum of London. It was a very interesting day with lots of thought-provoking speakers on a diverse array of subjects from new technologies in museums, to autism initiatives in NYC. I was the last speaker of the day, often referred to rather mockingly as the zombie shift, but I hope I managed to keep people awake whilst discussing ISM’s social justice work.

Having never been to the Museum of London before it was a pleasant surprise to find that it was located in the Barbican complex and could be reached by using Chamberlin, Powell and Bon’s highwalks. Brutalist architecture might not be everyone’s cup of tea but what is fascinating is how the modern Le Corbusier inspired Barbican estate sits side by side with old London, such as St Giles’ Church, which in a way reminded me what we are doing here in Liverpool.

Bye for now,
Richard

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