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Museums Galleries Scotland's response to Black Lives Matter

We all have our part to play in eradicating prejudice and racism in society. Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has been looking at our own actions as an organisation and what role we can play to support the sector to tackle inequalities, including racial injustice. As the National Development Body for Scotland’s museums and galleries we have a responsibility to encourage and support museums to challenge and critically interrogate their own practices and collections.

As a society, it is essential that we recognise the origins of our histories, whose voices were recorded and whose were omitted or ignored. Museums are storytellers and should be aware of the impact of what histories they tell and how they are told. We have a responsibility to adopt more critical and inclusive approaches to examining the issues surrounding our colonial histories. We also have an opportunity to tell difficult stories, to act as places of debate and to tell multiple sides of a story.

Last year we funded a number of projects by museums to re-examine their collection, revisit past interpretation and work to restore previously under represented voices. Earlier this year we arranged a Knowledge Exchange workshop on decolonisation with a keynote speaker from the Africa Museum, Brussels, and several speakers from Scottish museums. It provoked lively debate, highlighting the eagerness and need to have such discussions within the sector. We are planning new Knowledge Exchange events and resources to highlight empathetic practices within the sector and to challenge ourselves to make positive changes. We will continue our work to increase access to jobs and skills development opportunities aimed at diversifying the sector workforce.

We all need to be aware of our actions, our words and our biases and be part of the change we all need. At MGS we are committed to working to ensure that Scotland’s museums are open spaces for dialogue and transparency and we will actively support the sector to tell diverse and inclusive stories from our collections.