Thursday, August 23, 2007


They will remember that we were sold but they won’t remember that we were strong. They will remember that we were bought, but not that we were brave.

William Prescott, former slave 1937

Liverpool will mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade with the opening of the International Slavery Museum; the first national museum in the world to deal with transatlantic slavery and its legacies. Liverpool, central to the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century, is a fitting location in which to commemorate the anniversary of this important landmark.

The museum will open on 23 August, Slavery Remembrance Day 2007, a day that commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of St Domingo (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1791. Designated by UNESCO, the date was chosen as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.

The International Slavery Museum will feature new dynamic, powerful and moving displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade, uncovering the largely hidden account of the exploitation of Africa and Africans. Yet the story told is not only of disaster, but of the remarkable survival of African cultures. The museum addresses the legacy of transatlantic slavery, both contemporary as well as historic, reflecting issues that are relevant to Britain today, as well as western Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa. Exploring issues such as freedom, identity, human rights and cultural change, the museum will work to fight racism and racial hostility through its comprehensive education programmes. It is already working in partnership with organisations such as the Anthony Walker Foundation and Plan International.

The International Slavery Museum project was awarded £1.65 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund in November 2005.

Museum highlights will include:

  • The Freedom Wall. Seven TV monitors will display video clips showing the views and thoughts about the concept of freedom from campaigners, celebrities, academics, artists and members of the public
  • The Freedom! Sculpture, a contemporary sculpture commissioned by National Museums Liverpool and Christian Aid and created by Haitian artists. The sculpture is made out of recycled objects such as metal car parts and raw junk found in the dangerous slums of Port-au-Prince
  • The life-sized recreation of a Nigerian Igbo Compound

§ The Middle Passage audio-visual presentation. This installation represents the brutal transportation of Africans across the Atlantic, immersing visitors in a recreation of the dark and oppressive transportation suffered by slaves

  • A wall dedicated to 76 Black Achievers, past and present – with inspirational figures ranging from Rosa Parks and Mohammed Ali to Oprah Winfrey and Kofi Annan.
  • An interactive Music Desk which will chart the origins of today’s popular music from the transatlantic slave trade, featuring 200 recordings.
  • A Ku Klux Klan robe, a chilling symbol of racism rarely displayed in museums outside the USA
  • A state-of-the art learning facility dedicated to murdered Merseyside teenager Anthony Walker. The Anthony Walker Education Centre will provide a space for specially created education sessions about the legacy of racial intolerance left behind by the transatlantic slave trade

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of International Slavery Museum said:

“We believe the museum will fight racism and challenge stereotypical views. It is highlighting the resistance of the African people and show that they weren’t passive in the slave trade”

Carole Souter, Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said:

"It's fitting that the world's first national museum dedicated to the history of the slave trade is opening today on International Slavery Day.  This is a hugely important museum for Liverpool and one of more than 150 projects that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported across the UK to mark this year's bicentennial.  However, as the 2007 anniversary begins to draw to a close we need to continue reflecting on this complex part of our history in order to ensure that this legacy is never forgotten."

Peter Mearns, Executive Director for Marketing at the Northwest Regional Development Agency, said:

"The opening of the International Slavery Museum will add to the varied and differing collections already on show in Liverpool and will mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Our support for the Museum underlines the importance we place on the history of the Northwest while strengthening the cultural offer in the region."


International Slavery Museum Albert Dock, Liverpool

Admission FREE

Open 10am-5pm every day

Information 0151 478 4499

Website http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/