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MGS Appoints Project Manager: Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) welcomes Sheila Asante as Project Manager for Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums: Addressing Our Colonial Legacy, a project to explore how the history of Scotland’s involvement in the British Empire, colonialism, and transatlantic slavery, can be told by Scotland’s museums.

This nationwide project will build on existing work from within the equalities sector and from across Scotland’s museums, to explore the mechanisms of how Scotland can confront challenging histories within museum spaces. It is sponsored by the Scottish Government and co-ordinated by MGS.

Central to Sheila’s extensive experience working with museums is her commitment to uncovering the history of Scotland’s links to colonialism and the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved African people. This commitment is shown throughout her career, from the development of a ground-breaking exhibition for Edinburgh Museums to mark the bicentenary of abolition of the slave trade, to her two-year Migration Stories Fellowship at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Sheila Asante, Project Manager for Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums said:

“This is a hugely exciting opportunity to be part of a sector-leading exploration of how Scotland’s museums can begin the discussions around the legacies of Empire and slavery. I look forward to working with communities and museums across Scotland to engage in meaningful debate about how museums work toward becoming anti-racist institutions.”

Sheila will work alongside a new independent steering group that will recommend how Scotland’s existing and future museum collections can better recognise and represent a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history.

The independently chaired steering group is diverse in its membership and is representative of relevant expertise and community interests spanning museums, equalities and rights, and education. Dr Churnjeet Mahn (Strathclyde University) and Elena Trimarchi (David Livingstone Centre) were recently welcomed to the Steering Group. This Group is chaired by Sir Geoff Palmer, renowned scientist and human rights activist.

Sir Geoff says, “Ms Asante has extensive skills and professional experience in museums and galleries and is dedicated to promoting anti-racist practice. She has explored post-colonial legacies in her work since 2007 and has significant community links which will be essential for this post. I am so pleased that she has accepted the role and look forward to working with her.”

In order to better understand how the sector in Scotland is working in the area of race and inclusion MGS is currently asking museums and galleries who are pursuing or planning work in this area, especially on anti-racism, the legacies of slavery/empire, and decolonisation, to contact them. Contact can be made through a call to evidence at by 5pm on Wednesday 6th January 2021.

During 2021 MGS will coordinate a national consultation, in collaboration with Glasgow Life, to establish public and expert perspectives on how museums can contribute to our understanding of the legacies of slavery and colonialism.