Major museums in Bristol, Liverpool and London mark International Slavery Remembrance Day

By Culture24 Reporter | 19 August 2011
A photo of two black women
The Women of Sierra Leone exhibition at the National Slavery Museum in Liverpool, where a day of events will be taking place as part of International Slavery Remembrance Day© Lee Karen Stow
Event: International Slavery Remembrance Day, various venues, August 23 2011

Museums including the National Maritime Museum in London, the Museum of London the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and Bristol’s ambitious new M Shed – host events for the 13th International Slavery Remembrance Day.


At the National Maritime Museum, they are marking 2011’s International Slavery Remembrance Day with a series of free family-friendly events.

This year’s events explore the museum’s vast collections relating to the trade of enslaved people and focusses on the many local connections to be found in the Greenwich World Heritage site.

Composer Shirley Thompson discusses her internationally acclaimed work, The Woman Who Refused to Dance, which was inspired by the National Maritime Museum’s collection.

Her talk kicks off a heap of imaginative and insightful events across the day at the Greenwich venue, including talks by leading authors, tours, object handling sessions and poetry workshops. A closing ceremony will see white rose petals thrown into the River Thames in a finale led by actor and broadcaster Burt Caesar.

See the whole programme on the National Maritime Museum website.

A new exhibition at the Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands exposes the shocking reality of trafficking and forced labour in the capital.

Freedom from: Modern slavery in the capital opens on August 23 2011 to coincide with the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and is the Museum’s first cross-site exhibition.

To mark the UNESCO Remembrance Day Parliament is exhibiting a commemorative quilt in Westminster Hall. The quilt is on display until Friday August 26 and is made up of squares submitted by members of the public and MPs at a commemorative event in 2007.

The Parliamentary Archives are also a good place to explore the Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies, 1833, which was marked in 2008. Find out more about Parliament and the British Slave Trade on The Parliamentary Archives Website.


In Liverpool, a spiritual libation ceremony commemorates the enslaved and their ancestors through an offering, followed by performances from a steel band, African Brazilian drumming and dance and spoken word recitals courtesy of imaginative local group Writing on the Wall.

A panel discussion, Black Origins, ends an afternoon which includes mask making and banner spraying. A Walk of Remembrance will also take place to honour those who helped the port to thrive, travelling from Church Street to the city centre via landmarks where cotton once arrived. See the route.


This year’s event falls on the anniversary of the uprising of a group of enslaved Africans on the island of Hispaniola (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

Curators at M Shed will be explaining the significance of this throughout the day, allowing listeners to investigate resistance to the slave trade in a dedicated gallery charting the campaign for the abolition of the persecution.

Investigation sheets and objects entwined in the trade – among them gold weights, glass beads, manilas and a copy of the slave ship model used by William Wilberforce during the fightback – will be highlighted.

Then there’ll be a chance to raise your voice and sing the spiritual songs workers on Caribbean plantations would unite for, culminating in informal performances in the galleries under the guidance of Kim Samuels, of Bristol’s Renewal Choir.

Sounds like a cause worth breaking the usual hushed reverence of the museum for.

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