Decolonising Victorian Art and Design through Museum Collections and Practice
This research group brings together museums holding Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts collections with academics and artists to consider these objects’ global contexts, particularly in relation to ideologies of Orientalism and Empire.
By using Birmingham’s rich collections as a starting point, we aim to facilitate wider conversations about how Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts material, and collections of Victorian art and design more generally, might be displayed and interpreted for the 21st-century museum and its diverse audiences. We propose to create a set of resources for museum and higher education practitioners wishing to foreground race and empire in 19th-century collections, which will be available online. Our group’s activity will also inform a major exhibition proposed for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery following its full reopening.
Our key research questions are:
1) How can we rethink Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts objects through the lenses of anti-racism and decoloniality? How can contemporary museum practitioners interpret and engage audiences with these complex and difficult histories of art and design; what challenges and opportunities do they offer?
2) How can museums and galleries work ethically in collaborating with contemporary BIPOC artists and designers to engage with these nineteenth-century objects and their legacies?
3) How can the group build on the activities of our first year in order to create collaborative resources for museum and higher education practitioners?
New for 2023
Race, Empire and the Pre-Raphaelites in now making available a digital version of Approaching Race and Empire in collections of nineteenth century art and design – A resource pack for museums and galleries which is downloadable via the links below. An accessible digital version has been designed for people with print or visual impairment.
This Resource Pack has been designed to be a practical source for museum professionals, and we would be most grateful for any feedback. Please contact [email protected] if you would like to speak more about it, or to let us know if it has been useful – or how it might be improved.