The UK’s Migration Museum Project: a museum in the making.
Like all European nations, the UK's social history is intrinsically bound up with stories of migration.Local history museums have sought to integrate these narratives in recent years in two ways: bystressing the global influences of past major migrations on the locality, and through ethno-specificcommunity projects, particularly linked to late 20th century waves of migration. Rarely, if ever,though, is a national tale told, which gives equal emphasis to both comings and goings, to ebb andflow. Community projects with similar ethnic groups remain dispersed and uncoordinated, whilstcollecting initiatives are sporadic and similarly un-strategic at a national level.This paper will argue the need for a broader and less localised approach to migration history,through the creation of a national migration museum for the UK. It will describe the background tothe Migration Museum Project, its current progress and its ambitious plans for the future. The MMPis substantially different to other migration museums in that it proposes to have neither a buildingnor a collection. Recognising the difficulties of rooting a national migration narrative to any onelocation, it aims to create a migrating museum which works in partnership with existing museumsand collections to deliver a dynamic exhibition which is responsive to place.Inevitably there are many tensions inherent in such a venture. The paper will explore some of thechallenges currently facing the Trustees: how to balance local differences with national narratives;how to engage contemporary audiences with the 'long story'; and not least the complexities ofadvocating for a new museum in a highly politicised and contentious arena.
Zelda Baveystock is a Museums & Heritage Consultant and Trustee of the Migration MuseumProject. She has extensive experience in the capital development of history museums, havingworked previously as Senior Keeper of History at Tyne and Wear Museums during theredevelopment of Discovery Museum in Newcastle, and later as Acting Deputy Director of the newMuseum of Liverpool (winner of the Council of Europe Museum Award 2013). She currently holdsteaching positions at Newcastle University and the University of Manchester, where she teachespostgraduate students on Museum Studies and Arts Management courses. Zelda also has particularinterest in contemporary collecting strategies, and is on the board of COMCOL, ICOM's committeefor collecting and collections development.