The Object Journeys

The Object Journeys Project

Making African connections – decolonial futures for colonial collections. This project, led by the University of Sussex and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, addresses the colonial histories of three historic collections of African material in museums in the southeast:

  1. Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton;
  2. Powell-Cotton Museum, Birchington-on-Sea,
  3. and Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham.

These collections developed in radically divergent contexts – through ethnographic interest, missionary intervention and violent imperial conquest – and the project partners are considering the implications of these di erent colonial histories for the postcolonial present.
In each case museum sta and researchers are working closely with counterparts from universities and museums in the places from where the collections originated. Outputs include a series of co-produced displays, an online resource o ering access to 600 historic artefacts, new Wikipedia content and the return (on loan in the rst place) of 19th-century material to Botswana, for display at the Khama III Memorial Museum.

The project has underlined the importance of working closely with Africa-based partners and African diaspora interest groups, and the signi cance of historic collections held in regional museums. The collection of approximately 3,000 objects from the Namibia-Angola border area at the Powell-Cotton Museum is probably the largest in CASE STUDY Europe and is supplemented by photographs, lms and detailed notes. The Sudanese material (200 objects and documents) at the Royal Engineers Museum and the Botswana collection (300 objects) at Brighton Museum relate to historically-signi cant events that the objects are shedding new light on. Brighton Museum 'Making African Connections'
A focus on reinterpretation of out-of-date displays Many museums and museum users complain that displays and labels are out of date, often featuring ideas and language that are outmoded or have been supersede.


 

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