Our Anti-Racist Action
The horrific death of George Floyd in 2020 saw the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement increase around the world and prompted a global call to address structural racism, discrimination and injustice in our society.
During the days and weeks that followed, we recognised that we have a significant amount of work to do to dismantle the foundations of institutional racism on which museums are built. We published a statement of intent, which you can read at the bottom of this page, and we were clear that only through action could we realise our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation.
Over the past year, we have taken some important, positive steps forward, which you can see outlined below. While there is much more to do, we have begun to build momentum in our efforts for change and to become more representative of, and greater allies to, our diverse communities.
In April 2021, Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust joined forces to become Sheffield Museums, a new independent charity that operates six of the city’s leading museums and heritage sites: Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Graves Gallery, Kelham Island Museum, Millennium Gallery, Shepherd Wheel and Weston Park Museum. The formation of a new unified trust presents us with a huge opportunity to embed work around anti-racism and race inclusion in the foundations of who we are and what we do.
To that end, our Board of Trustees, Directors and colleagues across our wider team have been building our knowledge, understanding and confidence to make meaningful change. To date, this has included:
- The Chair and Directors undertaking Race and Governance training to support the forthcoming recruitment of Trustees this summer that will help our Board to better represent the communities we serve
- Participation in externally-led anti-racist leadership training to support the development of race-inclusion policies and plans
- Working with external partners to complete a review of our Ancient Egyptian gallery and related school workshops to assess where our activity perpetuates structural racism and inform changes to the existing displays over the coming months
- Undertaking an initial review of Sheffield’s collections to better understand where histories have been erased or mispresented
- Embedding a commitment to anti-racism, anti-discrimination and social justice in our business planning
- Exploring future opportunities to showcase diverse creative talents and perspectives, beginning with finalising plans for the co-curating forthcoming displays at the Graves Gallery this summer
- Colleagues in collections, exhibitions and learning participating in online seminars focussing on developing anti-racist and race-inclusive practices, led by the Museums Association, Inova and more
- Establishing a reading group among the leadership team to better understand the cultural and structural context we must recognise and address, and the action we can take
- Engaging in the Weston Jerwood programme exploring best practice in developing more inclusive pathways to a career in museums through revisiting our recruitment practices and policies for all roles
- Working with city-wide colleagues to research the city’s colonial connections and develop an anti-racist approach to our cultural heritage
While we have made some progress, there is much more to do. The next steps in realising our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation include:
- In July, we will advertise for an external consultant to work with us to undertake a Race Inclusion Maturity Assessment, which will provide the bedrock for our anti-racism and race inclusion work. The Assessment will help us objectively understand where we need to do better, develop our work and underpin our aspirations to become a more diverse organisation built around an authentic culture of inclusion
- In the summer, we will be recruiting for external support to deliver a comprehensive programme of team training and development with anti-racism and race inclusion at its heart
- Ahead of the new school year, we will be revising our schools programme and wider learning activity to ensure that we do not have a role in normalising any form of racism
- Creating opportunities to showcase diverse artistic talent and representative exhibitions, displays and events as part of our forthcoming programme
- Beginning to revisit the interpretation of the collections in our care
We recognise that museums can be spaces for discussion and debate and that we have an important role in challenging structural inequalities. As a new charity, we’re at the beginning of a new chapter for the city’s museums – we have a real opportunity and we must embrace it. We recognise we have a great deal of work to do and are fully committed to being an anti-racist organisation and to continuing to make positive change.
Read our original commitment to anti-racism here
Anti-Racist Resources and Information
- You can find a useful list of resources to gain a deeper understanding of racism and think about the actions we can take to be actively anti-racist and support Black Lives Matter here