What might museums and archives reveal about the history of collecting? At the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dr Hannah Young has been investigating some of the links between British slave ownership and the development of the museum. Absentee slave-owners used their wealth to invest in collections in the metropolis, and many of the objects once collected by them and their descendants can now be found at the museum. They've just appointed Victoria Adukwei Bulley as artist-in-residence to explore how this history has been 'hidden in plain sight' within the museum and how its legacy continues to shape the way in which we see the world today. Over a period of three months, she'll seek to challenge the way in which visitors think about the collections.
Victoria is a British-born Ghanaian poet, writer and filmmaker based in London. In her own words, she aims:
to respectfully unearth the names, lives and experiences of individuals whose enslavement is ineffably tied to items housed within the V&A's collection.
She'll be drawing closely on Dr Hannah Young's research and the extensive Legacies of British Slave Ownership compensation database, using text, film and photography to provide a human face to this history in ways that archives are incapable of doing. This programme of exploration will be linked with a selection of public-facing events under the title A Series of Unfortunate Inheritances. Why not go along to one of these if you're in London?