Whether you live in the UK or are visiting soon, you may be wondering about the black history in England or black cultural tourist locations and activities. While there are not many dedicated museums that focus on black history in England, there are few that have a focus and a few that have galleries and collections on it. Below I have listed six museums and activities that involve some black history that you may want to check out!
1. Black Cultural Archives
Location: 1 Windrush Square in Brixton, London
Black Cultural Archives is the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain. Founder Lee Garrison came to the conclusion that a space was needed where members of the community, especially young people, could come and find positive representations of themselves in history and culture.
They run a series of gallery exhibitions, educational programmes and public engagement events. They provide access to archives, museum objects and reference library.
2. International Slavery Museum
Location: International Slavery Museum Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AX England
The International Slavery Museum is part of the National Museums Liverpool. The museum explores history and issues linking the Americas with Liverpool using artefacts and archives. Liverpool is located in maritime city in Northwest England which is fours hours away from London and was a hub during the transatlantic slave trade. Liverpool ships carried about 1.5 million enslaved Africans across on approximately 5000 voyages with most of them going to the Caribbean and some to North America.
TIP: Entry is free and it is recommended you spend 1-2 hours there.
This museum is great since the UK does not like to talk about its past. I believe there should be one in London.
3. Victoria and Albert Museum
Location: Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design. The V&A holds a variety of material relating to black heritage and culture, including fashion, photography and performance.
There are historic artefacts from Africa, a collection of black performance and theatre, a staying power gallery which is a collection of photographs of black people during the 1950s to 1990s and more.
INFO: Admission is free
4. Museum of London : Docklands
Location: 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, No, Hertsmere Rd, London E14 4AL
The Museum of London tells the story of the capital of England from its first settlers to modern times. Museum of London is located in Central London, Docklands and Hackney.
London, Sugar and Slavery Gallery
The location in London Docklands is the home of the permanent gallery of London, Sugar and Slavery.
This gallery is located in the building that was central to the story. The building was built during the transatlantic slave trade to store sugar from plantations in the Carribean where enslaved men, women and children worked. Here you will discover how the trade in enslaved Africans and sugar shaped London.
The Krios of Sierra Leone Display
This display explores the history of Krios people of Sierra Leone and looks at their culture and community in the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery.
“Today’s Krios descend from the first settlers sent to Sierra Leone in the late 18th & 19th century by the British including London’s black poor, black Loyalists freed during the American revolution, Jamaican Maroons and Africans freed from illegal slave ships after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807” – London Docklands
The Krios of Sierra Leone display is open from 27 September 2019 – 27 September 2020
INFO: The overall gallery London, Sugar and Slavery Gallery is open during the museum’s opening times and has free entry.
5. National Maritime Museum
Location: Park Row, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 9NF
The National Maritime is part of Royal Museums Greenwich, a network of museums in the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.
The Atlantic gallery in particular explores themes of exploration, trade, war, enslavement and resistance.
TIP: Entry is still free and the Atlantic Gallery is on the first floor.
6. The British Museum
Location: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG
The British Museum definitely can seem controversial considering some of the artefacts come from Britain’s colonial past such as the Benin Bronzes. As controversial as this may be, they do have sections for different continents and countries one of them being Africa. They have an African collection that shows the history of the continent.
- Admission is free and advance booking is only required for groups of 10 or more.
- They charge for some exhibitions, events and tours.
- All visitors must pass through a security check which involves a bag search.
- Large bags and suitcases are not permitted, there are lockers at major train stations close by such as Euston, King’s Cross and Charring Cross.
- There can be long queues at peak times.
7. Black History Walks (Bonus)
Whilst this is not a museum it is definitely an activity you should consider. Black History Walks run guided walking tours in London that includes the Black history of London, they run bus and river tours too. The walks last for about 2 hours and the locations that the walks are taken place at are
- St Pauls/Bank
- Trafalgar Square
- Notting Hill
- Elephant and Castle
- Clapham Common
INFO: It costs £10 per adult and £3 per child. You need to book online on their website. You can also book private tours, you would need to enquire about pricing.
This is not an exhaustive list as I am sure there are some I do not know about. I hope you are able to visit one of these locations or join in on a walking tour in England and learn more about museums and places to have information about black history.
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