Wilberforce House Museum has won a national award from the Museum Association. The annual awards recognise and celebrate outstanding practice by UK museums delivering social impact, promoting the best examples of work by museums and individuals that support communities and engage with contemporary issues.
The museum’s work with the Wilberforce House Museum Advisory Board and the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull to deliver a new community strategy that engages underrepresented communities in developing exhibitions was recognised in the Decolonising Museums Awards category.
Tackling power and privilege, the museum collaborated with people of different ethnic backgrounds to embed decolonisation into its working practice.
In 2022-23 they worked together to produce a series of short films, two exhibitions, and a re-display of a permanent gallery space. The development of inclusive exhibitions created spaces where people felt heard and could explore difficult issues.
All this collaboration has led to the participants now acting as a permanent advisory board, to guide the work of the museum and partners.
Karen Okra, Member of the Wilberforce House Advisory Board said: “This award acknowledges two things. Firstly, it recognises the suffering of people who died as a result of racism that unfortunately continues to this day. Secondly, it acknowledges that the work redressing this injustice has finally begun. Recognition of our collective hard work means so much.”
Dr Nick Evans, Senior Lecturer in Diaspora History at the University of Hull said “It has been a real joy to work with members of the Wilberforce House Museum Advisory Board to transform the way people of colour are represented in our city’s museums. The partnership has been truly transformative and enabled people of Caribbean and African birth or descent to educate us all about the effect that racism continues to have on their everyday lives. This award acknowledges the power of teamwork and showcases how people across Hull are committed to social justice.
Councillor Rob Pritchard, the portfolio holder for Culture and Leisure at Hull City Council said: “The community are at the heart of what we do, so it is fitting that the new advisory board at Wilberforce House Museum are helping to shape the messages and galleries at one of our much-loved museums. This award is much deserved.”
Sharon Heal the director of the Museums Association, said: “We are delighted that the Wilberforce House Museum has been recognised for its ambitious work and ongoing commitment to decolonisation.”
“It is vital that museums engage in discussions around the legacy of colonialism and slavery and reappraise their own historical role in empire. Wilberforce House Museum is an excellent example of a museum working collaboratively with communities to deliver a positive social impact.”
The Wilberforce House Museum is open 10am-4.30pm Monday to Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sunday. Find out more at www.WilberforceHouse.co.uk.