After launching the Community Action Research and Rethinking Relationships projects, the Horniman is launching the next stage in supporting people from the African and Caribbean diaspora in the UK to access objects in our collection.
This is through the creation of a new section on the Horniman website – the Community Knowledge and Research Space – following consultation with the African and Caribbean community.
Most of the African and Caribbean objects in our collection are not on display. In the past, it has been difficult for community members to access these collections but this is changing. The Horniman is trying to find ways to:
- make it easier for community members to engage with these collections
- better understand these collections from multiple perspectives
- value lived experience as an important source of knowledge
- make informed decisions about what actions need to be taken in the future care of these collections.
The Space is designed to be used by all community researchers.
Project community members
Celine is Italian-Ivorian and has been living in London since 2009. She has a degree in sociology and currently works as a DJ and music producer. Throughout the project she has been keen to develop the Space as a way to explore her own heritage and as well as develop an interactive map and timelines.
Nnmadi is currently the Culture Minister for SOAD – State of the African Diaspora, an African Union (AU) mandated organisation. He is interested in exploring the African and Caribbean Collections and has an interest in conversations around Afrocentricity.
Betty is a community researcher and community events organiser. She practices holistic health, and is interested in researching this within the Horniman. Betty was a community research on the Community Action Researchers project in 2021.
Pamela is the chair and lead organiser for the Caribbean Social Forum, a group for elders based in Woolwich. Pamela recently received an honorary PhD from the University of Greenwich for her community work. She is interested in exploring the transnational heritage of the Caribbean.
Biography coming soon.
Judy is a community researcher and long-time supporter of the Horniman, having attended workshops during the Community Action Research project. Judy is currently researching nutmeg, that she found in the collections, tracing its history in the Caribbean, specifically Grenada. Judy has attended the Research Club, and contributed to an episode of the new podcast.
Meghan is a museum professional who has just started a PhD in Museum Practice at the University of Leeds. She has previously worked at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
Nick is a practicing Priest with the Church of England, and was born in Kenya. He was also a community researcher with the Community Action Research project in 2021, where he researched African spiritual veneration objects in the collections. Nick contributed to the Afro Historyscapes podcast where we discussed the African history of Christianity.
Diana is a trained anthropologist based in Kenya. She has been involved with the Horniman previously as part of the Rethinking Relationships project. Diana is interested in exploring issues of access and ownership within museum contexts.
Chinelo Njaka PhD
Chinelo Njaka PhD is an American-Nigerian sociologist, and community activist based in Peckham. Chinelo founded and directs the community group Peckham Rights! and has written a book, ‘Mixed Race in the US and the UK’. Chinelo was a researcher on the Community Action Research project and researched Igbo objects in the collection. Currently, she is doing research in the anthropology department, looking at black weaving practices in the US and UK.
Artist and educator, originating from Jamaica, Heather is actively involved in local charity, Telford African and Afro-Caribbean Resource Centre (TAARC, West Midlands region). She is also Cofounder of Wellington Community Art Gallery (WelliArt, Telford). Resident in the UK for 25 years, Heather conducts workshops in local schools and with home-educated children about Black British history and heritage, and community cohesion, in collaboration with Telford and Wrekin Multicultural Development Team.
Jean’s parents are both Jamaican and she is Black British. She has a newly registered charity called Wings4doves which is based around arts and culture in the black community of Southwark.
Jean’s history means a lot to her, and she is constantly searching for answers around identity; her own black culture moulded the person she is, through feelings and how she represents Britain.
Pearl Hodgson West
Pearl is a community researcher and has done various pieces of research with the Horniman. She has been exploring the African and Caribbean collections, and the unseen narratives within them that have not always been displayed. She also explores the relationship between the Horniman and the local area, where she is a resident. Pearl has also contributed to the new Community Conversations Podcast, where we discussed access.
About the collections
The Horniman hold over 350,000 objects, with 80,000 of these held in our Anthropology collection.
Through the Anthropology collection you can find a path into understanding the everyday lives and beliefs of people from all over the world, including ourselves. The quality, diversity, and beauty of the objects in the collection are testament to the technical, aesthetic, and practical skills of people throughout the world.
The collection is constantly being researched and added to. The Horniman is prioritising working with communities as they develop their new collections policy. There are an estimated 22,000 objects from Africa in our collections. It covers the whole of the continent, with every modern African state represented.
We also hold a smaller – yet significant – collection of around 500 objects from the Caribbean. These objects range from tools, musical instruments and religious objects. Countries well represented virtually in this collection are Haiti, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
In addition, the Horniman’s musical instrument collection has over 9,500 objects made to produce sound and our Natural History collection contains over 250,000 specimens of local, national and worldwide origin.
This project is made possible due to the support awarded from the Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund. The Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund is a collaboration between the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and The Museums Association.