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Knowledge Exchange: Black History Month 2023

Three children observe a tall metal shelving unit filled with a wide variety of museum objects and images.


In this Knowledge Exchange we hear from Amy Rich, Community and Campaign Manager at Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), Matthew Jarron from University of Dundee MuseumsHeather Carroll, Events and Exhibitions Officer at Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, and Aneel Singh Bhopal, Deputy Director West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC).

The speakers discuss ways in which heritage organisations can get involved with Black History Month through a range of different activities and why you don’t necessarily need a collection to do so.

(00:00 – 02:28) Intro from Loretta Mordi, Museum Development Manager for Learning and Engagement at Museums Galleries Scotland

(2:28) Amy Rich (CRER) Black History Month

Amy talks about the work that CRER are doing to tackle structural racism in Scotland by using evidence based and rights based approaches. Amy also discusses CRER’s involvement with Black History Month Scotland’s events programme and explains how museums can get involved through a range of different activities.

(14:26) Heather Carroll (Stirling Smith) Black History Month in a small museum

Events and Exhibitions Officer at Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Heather Carroll, speaks about getting involved with BHM as a small museum. Using the museum’s collections of paintings and objects, they hosted 2 themed tours; Thomas Stuart Smith’s Black Portraiture and The Stirling Story of Slavery and Empire. Heather also speaks about how the local community engaged with these tours and how the tours resulted in an increase in visitor numbers and audience engagement.

(25:50) Q&A

Heather and Amy answers questions about how museums can get involved with BHM when their collections don’t have obvious connections to black or ethnic minority history.

(33:28) Aneel Singh Bhopal, Deputy Director West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC).

Aneel speaks about the work WESREC are doing to support organisations who are looking to consult with communities when developing their tours, exhibitions, and collections, including a recent consultancy project with David Livingstone Birthplace.

(42:24) Matthew Jarron (University of Dundee Museums) Breaking the Chains

Matthew speaks about University of Dundee Museums 2022 project, Breaking the Chains. This project was launched during BHM last year and explored Dundee’s connections to slavery through a walking tour of the city. Matthew also speaks about the importance of ongoing activity to increase the knowledge of black history year round and how the museum is working to do this.

(52:15) Aneel Singh Bhopal, Deputy Director West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC).

Aneel talks about his work with Roots Scotland, a project which delivers conversation cafes, enabling heritage organisations to meet with minority ethnic groups and discuss ways to encourage these groups to engage with the historic environment and access grant opportunities. Aneel also talks about the Inclusive Heritage Partnership project, funded by the Scottish Government’s workplace equality fund, this is a 2 year partnership project with Historic Environment Scotland. The project aims to diversify HES’ board and workforce, increase access to board vacancies for those with disabilities, and address the lack of representation of Black and Asian communities within the organisation.

Aneel also speaks about the work WSREC are doing with CRER and Glasgow life at Kelvin Hall. WSREC are inviting people from minority ethnic backgrounds to attend Kelvin Hall and learn about the objects on display there and then share their knowledge, stories, and insights with visitors during Black History Month 2023.

(1:00) Closing discussion and hints and tips for getting involved in Black History Month



First presentation from CRER about Black History Month Scotland.

Q – Why is there a separate website for black history month in Scotland to the rest of the UK? Is there a reason to have a separate site and should the Scottish events be on the UK site?

A –  The origins of black history month in Scotland differ from the rest of the UK as history of empire and slavery in Scotland is often not acknowledged. I think it’s important to remember these histories and the ways they’re unique to Scotland by having a Scotland-specific programme. In terms of collaborating with the UK programme, I would be interested to look at ways we could do this going forward although we do currently involve international organisations and UK-based organisations in our events programme.

Third presentation from University of Dundee Museums

Q – How did you produce the graphics in your map?

A – this was done in house, leisure and culture Dundee have their own design team. That was one of the things we did think quite a lot about because it needed to be eye catching and exciting but keep the appropriate tone considering the subject matter.