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28 October 2014

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British Museum
The British Museum in Bloomsbury

London's major museums mark the bi-centenary

By Penny Wrout, BBC London Communities Editor
A number of long-running exhibitions commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

London was the port and commercial heart of the trade in enslaved African people which lasted for 300 years. 

It is fitting that many of the capital's major institutions are commemorating the bi-centenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. 

National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum

Significant exhibitions and displays are running for several months in museums as diverse as the V&A, the National Maritime Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. 

As the year draws to a close London will have it's first permanent gallery dedicated to exploring this city's relationship with the transatlantic slave trade.  

The  London, Sugar and Slavery Gallery will open at the Museum of Docklands in late October.  The museum is housed in a converted warehouse, which was constructed to store products coming back into Britain from the plantations in the Caribbean. 

Here, BBC London lists a selection of long-running events taking place at various museums across the capital.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7

Tues 20th Feb to 17th June, 10am – 5.45pm Free.
Uncomfortable Truths, The Shadow of Slave Trading on Contemporary Art and Design.
The V&A commemorates 200 years since the abolition of the British slave trade with a special exhibition of contemporary art, video and sculpture. The exhibition explores the history and horror of slavery and its links to art and design from the past to the present day.
Telephone the V&A on +44 (0)20 7942 2000 or visit

St Paul's Cathedral, London, EC4M 8AD

Weds 21st Feb to 29th March, Mon – Sat 8.30am - 4pm.  £9.50
Slave Britain, Photography Exhibition explores today’s growing trade in human lives
A new photography exhibition reveals how human trafficking is a bitter reality for thousands of women, men and children in this country today.  Slave Britain artfully documents the ordinary lives and everyday locations caught up in trafficking and calls for an end to this illegal 21st century trade. The show is produced by Panos Pictures in partnership with Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Eaves and UNICEF UK.
More information from Polly Robertson, or 020 7246 8321

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

22 Feb – 10 Jan 08
‘The Atlantic Trade & Identity Season’.  Admission free.
The British Museum presents a varied programme featuring a series of exhibitions, displays and events exploring transatlantic trade and its relationship to slavery, resistance and diasporas.

22 February – 10 April 2007  Room 3
The Fabric of a Nation: textiles and identity in modern Ghana

22 March – 13 May 2007 Room 35
La Bouche du Roi: an artwork by Romuald Hazoumé

3 May – 17 June 2007 Room 3
The Caribbean before Columbus

24 May 2007 –  10 January 2008 Room 69a
Inhuman Traffic: The Business of the Slave Trade

15 Mar - 17 Jun
A New World: England's First View of America

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H OHE

17 Mar - 22 Jul
Portraits, People And The Abolition Of The Slave Trade –
A special trail highlighting key individuals in the gallery's collections who have been linked to the slave trade and its abolition. There will also be a varied programme of events to support the exhibition.

Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament, London

23 May to 23 September 2007  Admission - FREE
The exhibition will tell the story of the pressures and influences both at home and abroad which influenced Parliament and led to the passing of the Act to abolish Britain’s slave trade in 1807.
FURTHER INFORMATION - Telephone: 0207 219 2105

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, LONDON SE10 9NF

9-week course, Thursdays, 15 March–10 May
The Transatlantic Slave Trade
This course commemorates the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire. It aims to provide a historical narrative, contextualizing Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. 

Friday 23 March, Friday 23 November
Roots of Resistance: Abolition 1807
Study Session for A Level students, undergraduates and course tutors.
Resistance of enslaved people was an integral part of the abolition movement to end the slave trade. This study session examines both the roots of resistance and the abolition movement through talks by curators and contemporary artists, and object and manuscript handling sessions.

11-week evening course, Thursdays, 4 October–13 December 2007
Manacles, Sugar Tongs and Gin:
Exploring the roots, routes and legacy of the transatlantic slave tradeNational Maritime Museum in partnership with Birkbeck
This course investigates what the National Maritime Museum's collections can teach us about London's role in the transatlantic trade. More widely, we will study what has come to be called The Black Atlantic.

Museum in Docklands, West India Quay, London E14 4AL

In Autumn 2007, Museum in Docklands will open the only permanent gallery in London that examines the city’s involvement in transatlantic slavery and its legacy on the capital.
Annual admission to the Museum is £5 adult, concs £3 (over 60s, unwaged)
Kids go free.
Open daily 10am -6pm
0870 444 3856

last updated: 09/03/07
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