Ahead of Refugee Week (18-24 June 2018), Leicester Arts and Museums Service organises a day of events at New Walk Museum on 17 June to celebrate Leicester’s refugee community. A full programme of celebrations includes music, dance, workshops, a recipe book and a fashion show, as well as family-oriented activities.
This year, ArtReach and Leicester Arts and Museums Service have developed a new project that gives refugees an active voice in the museum. Facilitated by ArtReach through Journeys 2018 and the museum's Outreach Officer Linda Harding, the project invites members of the local refugee community to visit the museum and re-write the current labels in line with their understanding and appreciation of these objects and the theme of ‘identity’.
New Walk Museum responded to this project with great enthusiasm, setting itself at the forefront of contemporary conversations in museums on engagements with local communities. Angela Stienne, who facilitates the event for ArtReach, noted that “it is really exciting that New Walk Museum has been so open and welcoming of this labelling takeover. Objects in museums have gone through journeys of displacement and change of identity, and these can be linked to refugees’ experiences.”
The project is an important step in engaging the creative community of refugees and asylum seekers with the museum, an institution that is free and open for all. Angela adds: “The World Arts collection was the evident choice for this project, because so many objects come from countries from which refugees in Leicester come from. Beyond the objects, the museum is a place where diverse cultures and communities meet.”
The writing workshop is facilitated by Leicester City of Sanctuary and Writing East Midlands during their weekly creative writing workshops in Leicester. The labels will be on public view on 17 June 2018.