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Breaking the heart of darkness

14 February 2013 by Richard

Hello all,

Conrad’s classic Heart of Darkness is a powerful indictment of imperialism at its height which swept across Africa and in particular the repressive and brutal reign of the Belgians in the Congo, which had become the fiefdom of King Leopold II. The book centres on Marlow, a sailor who works for a Belgian ivory trading company, and encounters widespread brutality by the company. At the end of the book Conrad’s narrator encounters Kurtz (Brando in Apocalypse Now), who had worked for the company but turned himself into a demigod and who was guilty of carrying out horrifying atrocities. Read more…

E-footprints

31 January 2013 by Richard

group photo in the museum

Beverley Knight, Nicola Green, Richard Benjamin and David Lammy MP

Hello all,

Unfortunately we had to cancel the planned event with the artist Nicola Green at the Walker Art Gallery on Friday 18th due to the bad weather. However, before the venues closed I was able to give Nicola and her friends and family a tour of the International Slavery Museum. Amongst the group was the singer Beverley Knight who had a very thought provoking visit and David Lammy MP – long time supporter of the International Slavery Museum. It’s a lot to take in for some people on their initial visit, and they might experience a number of emotions, so I am sure that many of the group will come back in the future. Read more…

Radical Resolutions

15 January 2013 by Richard

Bronze bust of W.E.B Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author and editor.

Hello all,
Happy New Year to regular and new followers of my blog.  New Years resolutions are often doomed before they even start and as a pragmatist I don’t expect the world to change at the chimes of Big Ben. That said it would be a positive start to 2013 if people with dispositions towards intolerance educate themselves about “others” and denounce their particular prejudice, racism, sexism, ageism, their homophobia or hostility towards disabled people – to name just a few – rather than make a resolution to eat less cake or exercise more.   Regardless, those of us who abhor such behaviour should not be downhearted, stay resolute and when we can, question, challenge and inform. Read more…

A tale of two Eleanors and a Kidd

6 December 2012 by Richard

Eleanor Roosevelt holds up a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

With International Human Rights Day approaching on 10 December I wanted to highlight often forgotten human rights activists, in this case Eleanor Roosevelt, Eleanor Rathbone and Ronald Kidd.

Roosevelt, a former U.S. First Lady, chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, one of the most important and significant documents of modern times.   Some of the articles are more known than others, for instance, Article 1 declares “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights whereas Article 4 states No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”  However, of equal importance are such articles as Nos. 16 which states that “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses”.  Human rights abuses which the Declaration has striven to fight are still taking place today, not just in other countries, but the UK, your own town, your own street.  Young women in some communities can’t marry who they want and can suffer domestic violence as a result.  People of all ages and nationalities are held in domestic servitude, often mistreated by professionals and not everyone is born free with their rights in place. I could go on.
Read more…

The Long March from 54th to 1600 Pennsylvania

15 November 2012 by Richard

War memorial to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, Boston

Image shows the war memorial to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, Boston

Hello,

Regardless of the fact that President Obama’s recent election victory brought about a tangible sigh of relief in many parts of the world, these next few years will be a tough test for him and his administration.   For those of you interested in Obama, from next January our sister venue the Walker Art Gallery hosts the exhibition In 7 Days by the artist Nicola Green, who between August 2008 and January 2009 had the opportunity to follow Barack Obama on his Presidential campaign. One of the images ‘Change’ has the then Senator Obama in a John Wayne-esque pose.  The similarities end there though; it could be said that Wayne had rather more conservative political values.
Read more…

The not so beautiful game

29 October 2012 by Richard

Fans watch a football match

Racism still exists in football despite initiatives like Kick it out.

Hello,

Surely I’m not the only one to have a feeling of déjà vu? In January of this year I wrote a blog about allegations of racist abuse in football which had overshadowed various anti-racism campaigns and initiatives such as Kick It Out. Well here we are again, same old, same old.  Is it too much to ask that those people in the higher echelons of English and European football finally take firm and decisive action around blatant racism on the terraces and on the pitch? 
Read more…

Olympian achievements

16 August 2012 by Richard

photo of museum display

Jesse Owens on the International Slavery Museum’s Fight for Freedom and Equality Wall ©Lee Garland

Hello,

I could not miss the opportunity of an Olympic themed blog.  I enjoyed these past few weeks (I now know about ippon and not to pop out of the room before the 50m freestyle) and am looking forward to the Paralympics. That being said, I am not sure whether the Olympics warranted the lead news item most evenings.   The world does not put everything on hold for such events.

On several occasions the discussion focused on the achievements of Black athletes, in particular sprinters form the Caribbean and the US. A recent programme which featured Olympian Michael Johnson called Survival of the Fastest looked at whether African American and Caribbean athletes are successful as a result of a legacy of transatlantic slavery. Johnson met sport and science experts and leading historians to examine the link between transatlantic slavery, genetics and plantation ‘breeding programmes’. Did the physical stature of many enslaved Africans forced to carry out backbreaking and deadly physical labour have a role to play in altering the genomes of their descendants? Read more…

Museums modernus

24 July 2012 by Richard

At the end of May I left these shores to give a public lecture in Copenhagen as part of the MeLa European Museums in an age of migrations project. MeLa is a four year long research project which aims to define new approaches for museums in relation to the conditions posed by the migrations of people, cultures, ideas, information and knowledge in the global world. Furthermore, the project will evaluate how these changes can interfere with such organizational issues as communication strategies, physical structures and exhibition places. I was invited by the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) who organized this particular event and who presented some very interesting and innovative design solutions focusing on visitor studies. Read more…

Consciousness and the Rainbow Atlantic

24 May 2012 by Richard

photograph of a peaceful ocean

© FreeImages.co.uk

Hello,

Like many of you I am pleased that the people of Liverpool in the recent Mayoral elections gave a clear message to those of the far-right persuasion that their brand of politics was not wanted. Less than 2% of the 100,000 plus people who went to the polling stations voted for such candidates.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of work to do at many levels, to counter the rise of extreme nationalistic and far-right ideologies across Europe. Their vague and utopian ideas of national identity, including Britishness (which rarely includes BME individuals whether or not they were born in Britain…like me) has no factual basis. Read more…

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

20 March 2012 by Richard

family at a museum craft session

Craft session in the Anthony Walker Education Centre at the International Slavery Musuem. Copyright Pete Carr

Hello,

I have been a trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation for several years, an organisation established by Anthony’s family following his racially-motivated murder in July 2005.
 
The mission of the Foundation is to promote equality and diversity through education, sport and arts events and to support law enforcement agencies and local communities to reduce hate crime and build safe cohesive communities.

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the AWF released the following statement:
Read more…

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.