National Museums Liverpool Reveals Plans For £10m Slavery Museum

By Sophie O'Kelly | 13 October 2005
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Shows a photo of the interior of the existing Transatlantic Slavery gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Merseyside Maritime Museum has an existing Transatlantic Slavery gallery objects from which will go on display in the new museum. © National Museums Liverpool.

National Museums Liverpool has announced plans for a museum dedicated entirely to understanding transatlantic slavery.

Revealed during Black History Month, the first phase of the new venture is planned to open in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.

The Heritage Lottery Fund will plough £1.65 million into the £10 million museum, which staff at National Museums Liverpool hope to build on the city’s waterfront next to Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Shows a photo of the exterior of a large red-brick building with a neo-classical portico on the front. The words Transatlantic Slavery Centre have been superimposed onto it.

The former Dock Traffic Office on Liverpool's historic waterfront will be transformed into the new museum once current occupiers, ITV Granada, move out. © Austin:Smith-Lord.

“Not everyone is aware that the slave trade had an important role in shaping many aspects of our lives and cities,” said Heritage Lottery Fund Regional Manager Tony Jones. “This project will help to shed light on this very important part of history and allow a wide number of people to discover it and understand it for themselves.”

The two-part project hopes to include displays about the legacy of transatlantic slavery as well as addressing issues such as freedom, identity, human rights, reparation, racial discrimination and cultural change.

Liverpool played a hugely important part in the slave trade, forming part of one third of the formidable Slave Triangle that linked the UK with Africa and America. Towards the end of the 18th century Liverpool controlled up to 60% of the British slave trade.

Shows a photo of two large red brick buildings linked by a glass walk way which has been superimposed onto the image.

The new museum will be linked to Merseyside Maritime Museum by a glass walkway offering spectacular views of the city's famous Three Graces. © Austin:Smith-Lord.

“It is important that this new national museum is in this city and that the story of Liverpool’s crucial role in the transatlantic slave trade is told well," said Director of National Museums Liverpool, David Fleming.

"It will demonstrate that this is a grown up city, able to address uncomfortable and disturbing truths about its past, even as we celebrate Liverpool’s status as a European Capital of Culture.”

The second stage of the proposed project is planned to open in 2009 and will house a visitor-focused resource centre, which will involve performance-based events as well as public lectures and debate on the controversial subject. It is also hoped that the centre will have accommodation for visitors who wish to look into the topic further.

“The new museum will aim to challenge preconceptions and will address issues which are of relevance to everyone today,” added Loyd Grossman, chairman of National Museums Liverpool.

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