Scottish Government responds to Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums Recommendations
The Scottish Government accepts the recommendations of the Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums (ESSM) Steering Group, set up to advise on how Scotland’s museums and galleries can better reflect the country’s role in empire, colonialism, and historic slavery.
The recommendations of the Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums (ESSM) Steering Group, set up to advise on how Scotland’s museums and galleries can better reflect the country’s role in empire, colonialism, and historic slavery, have been fully accepted by the Scottish Government.
The publication of the Scottish Government’s response was marked at an event at The Hunterian, in Glasgow with Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development. At the event speakers highlighted anti-racist programmes of work in Scotland’s museums including Museums Galleries Scotland’s (MGS) Delivering Change programme.
Delivering Change is a three-year programme developed in response to the ESSM research and recommendations to enable museums to put people at the heart of their work. The project is a collective effort between MGS and partnering museums, galleries, and community groups to build relationships based on solidarity with systemically excluded communities and to restructure as organisations based on anti-oppressive principles. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Scottish Government.
Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said:
“MGS welcomes this significant announcement by the Scottish Government and the recognition of the importance of undertaking the work recommended by the Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums Steering Group.
Since their publication in 2022, the recommendations have not just shaped MGS’s work, but how we work as an organisation to collectively support the sector to engage with, and tell the stories of, all of Scotland’s people. We are already seeing brilliant work by museums and galleries across the country collaborating with local communities impacted by the legacies of slavery and empire to create more inclusive heritage spaces. I am excited about the future of a museum sector that is truly inclusive, trusted and engaged with by all of Scotland’s people, and the role that MGS can play in supporting this work.”
The Scottish Government response asks MGS to support the sector to take the next steps to address the ESSM recommendations and MGS is now actively taking this work forward.
The six recommendations of the Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums Steering Group’s report:
- Scotland should create a dedicated space to address our role in empire, colonialism, and historic slavery. A new organisation should be created to lead this work.
- Museums should ensure anti-racism is embedded in their workplaces and public spaces.
- Museums should involve the people of Scotland in shaping their work through co-production, to promote cultural democracy and participation for all.
- Museums should commit to research, interpret, and share the histories of Scotland’s links to empire, colonialism, and historic slavery.
- Museums should support efforts to promote and embed race equality and anti-racism in the curricula in a meaningful, effective, and sustainable way.
- Scottish Government should demonstrate their support for restitution and repatriation of looted or unethically acquired items in Scottish collections.
Find out more about the Empire, Slavery, and Scotland’s Museums project.
Find out more about the Delivering Change project.