Antislavery Usable Past has collaborated with Museum of London Docklands to curate the latest display in the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery that highlights the connection to slavery of some of Britain’s oldest cultural organisations. Slavery, culture & collecting follows slave owner and art collector George Hibbert, a prominent member of a large subsection of British society which derived its wealth directly from the slave economy. These figures were often active philanthropists, and are commemorated in memorials for their associations with charitable causes, while their connections to slavery are invisible even today.
Hibbert was instrumental in building the West India Docks which now house the Museum of London Docklands. This connection positions the museum as an important place to think about the relationship between slavery and cultural heritage.
The wealth generated by slavery was used to create cultural institutions such as museums, universities, art galleries and charities. Advocates of slavery would then use culture in their arguments for the continuing use of enslaved labour, on the grounds that Africans needed the “civilising influence” of Europe.
The display contains a short film featuring Dr Katie Donington. Further information can be found on the museum website Slavery, culture and collecting, Museum of London