Funders urged to support decolonising work

Funders are being urged to be brave in their support for decolonising work after a membership body released new guidance for museums to address the legacy of British colonialism.

The Museums Association, a charitable membership body that “advocates for museums without fear or favour from governments or funding influences”, yesterday published the guidance, called 'Supporting Decolonisation in Museums'.

It aims to empower more people to take action and lead change as museums address the legacy of British colonialism.

The guidance was produced by the charity’s Decolonisation Guidance Working Group and builds on the findings of its 2019 Empowering Collections report, which recognised a growing interest in decolonising museums but also a lack of confidence in how to put this into practice. 

It is intended to help people from across the museums sector to engage with decolonising practice, regardless of the size or type of institution.

The guidance makes recommendations including asking funders to support provenance research and collections development.

It also asks funders to offer more flexible funding to support the decolonising process and funding for overlooked or marginalised groups, collections and organisations.

Sharon Heal, director at the Museums Association, said: “Many museums are already working on addressing the legacy of colonialism by rethinking their displays and collections and by working with communities in the UK and abroad.

“At a time when this history is under more scrutiny than ever, it is vital that museums engage in these discussions and reappraise their own historical role in empire.

“We will continue to work with museums to support them on this journey.”

Alongside the guidance the charity has announced a new Decolonisation Confidence and Skills programme with funding from the Art Fund, the John Ellerman Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Further details about the programme will be announced next year as it aims to help museums to use the guidance and implement decolonising practice in their work.

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