Museums & Galleries Celebrate Black History Month 2004

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 04 October 2004
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A black and white image of five men gathered around a record player. One is singin into a microphone.

Siffa Sound, Handsworth Park c.1975 (Left to right: Ricko, President, Bandit, General Hawkeye). Photo: Vanley Burke.

Each year in the UK the month of October is dedicated to celebrating black history.

From concerts, exhibitions and films, to workshops, lectures and talks, museums and galleries all over the country are putting on events to promote black history and highlight the positive black contribution to British society.

There are simply hundreds of events going on throughout the UK during October 2004 and here at the 24 Hour Museum we’ve put together a very brief rundown of just some of them.

photo shows a front view of Charles Parson's steam launch Turbinia at Discovery Museum, Newcastle.

Get to the magnificent Discovery Museum in Newcastle this month to discover Black History Month. © 24 Hour Museum.

Newcastle & Gateshead

Up in the north east, Black History Month is being marked with museum-based events that provide the opportunity to learn about the cultural heritage of the black community and have plenty of fun, too.

Workshops at Discovery Museum are going to be teaching visitors how to party on down in African style. L’Afrique events will feature an eight-piece African band, Zambal. African drumming workshops will be held on October 29. Those who get into the rhythm can take part in a carnival procession on October 30!

After that, you might need a little rest. The Beauty Sleep exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens might be just the thing. Some unusual items rarely on display will be brought out from October 16: headrests and stools from Africa and all around the world. Check the museum guide for related events.

photo shows a steel pan, or drum, shining brightly as player's hands are reflected in them

Steely pan - the roots of black culture will be celebrated all over Britain in October.


In Leeds on October 18, Professor Walvin from York University will give a speech on transatlantic slavery and local heritage. A Shared History is a free event at Leeds Metropolitan University, starting 18.00.

Leeds West Indian Centre is holding various events including a social and educational session on October 10, with presentations, singing and workshops.

A Celebration of Steel Pan will take place at the same venue on October 31, with storytelling and a performance by the Ebony Youth Steel Orchestra.

The Moving Here website contains a whopping 150,000 items on the subject of migration to England. From October 4 to 22, Leeds Library and Information Service will be holding learning sessions on accessing the site, and submitting stories and pictures recording personal experiences of moving and living here. Get in touch with your local library in the city to find out more details.

For more details of what's going on in Leeds for Black History Month, visit the Leeds City Council website.

photo shows a man wearing a suit and hat - this looks like the fifties.

Sound Revolution at the Imperial War Museum North will look at how black music has commented on conflict. Courtesy IWM North.


Across the Pennines in Manchester, the Imperial War Museum North is documenting a Sound Revolution, with images and black rooted music that comment on conflicts from the Second World War to the Cold War and beyond.

The sounds will be playing on Wednesdays and Sundays from October 6.

Over at the Museum of Science and Industry, artists have been concerning themselves with that quintessentially English beverage, tea. Not drinking it, mind, but creating an installation that explores the lives of tea drinkers and tea planters. Contrast an African tea village to an English tea garden, from October 23, at The English Tea: Our Shared Heritage, Planters' and Drinkers' Stories.

On October 26, the artists who created the installation invite visitors to make their own African-inspired work.

History Alive! The People’s History Museum is also using storytelling to bring black history to a modern audience. No Bed of Roses – Gabrielle’s Story, charts one woman’s migration from the Caribbean to Britain in the 1950s. The Living History performances will happen on October 29 and November 7.

photo shows a woman in brightly coloured costume with a a large aluminium pot balenced skilfully on her head. She's also holding a mug of tea.

Tea - a shared heritage. Courtesy Manchester Museum of Industry and Science.

On October 15 and 24, researcher Dominique Tessier is giving guided tours of the People’s History Museum, highlighting examples of black history in the galleries.

Dominique has curated her own exhibition, on at Manchester Central Library from October 4. To find out what links Shirley Bassey, the first professional black footballer, Louis Armstrong, Paul Robeson and Othello, visit Black History Made Sample.

To complement this sample of black life, Dominique will give a talk on Manchester's Hidden History, focusing on East Manchester. Everyone is welcome to bring along photographs and artefacts and share their memories or knowledge. This will take place in Beswick Library, Grey Mare Lane on Monday October 18 at 19.00.

For more details about Black History Month events in the North West, see the Acts of Achievement website.

photo shows poster for Liverpool Black History Month

Liverpool Black History Month. © Liverpool Black History Month.


Manchester’s near neighbour Liverpool is home to one of the oldest black communities in the UK and events range from art exhibitions to workshops, reflecting the city’s diversity and heritage.

At Tate Liverpool an exhibition by one of the most successful African-American artists working today, Kara Walker, runs until the end of October.

Grub for Sharks – A Concession to the Negro Populace is inspired by a work by JMW Turner, Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and the Dying – Typhon (sic) Coming On and a book, acquired by the artist during a research visit to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, on the Liverpool slave trade.

photo shows silhouettes of figures

Grub for Sharks at Tate Liverpool. Courtesy the Artist and Brent Sikkema. Photograph Tate Liverpool 2004.

'Grub for Sharks' is a reference to the practice of throwing slaves to their death in the sea, in an attempt to lighten ships before a storm – schools of sharks were known to trail ships for this reason.

The aforementioned Merseyside Maritime Museum is home to one of the UK’s most powerful permanent exhibitions about the slave trade and they will be conducting a slavery trail around the docks area of the city on October 9, 26 and 29.

There will also be free drumming performances at the museum on October 24 at 2pm and 3pm featuring Capoeria drummers.

At FACT, the Foundation for Art & Creative Technology, a programme of screenings that tie in with Black History Month has been organised, while over at Liverpool Museum there is a West African Textiles exhibition with accompanying workshops on October 9 and 10.

To find out the full listings including venues, times and contact details, vist the Liverpool Black History Month website at

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  • To find out about events in the south, click here.
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