African and Caribbean Collections Research Hub

The African and Caribbean collections Research Hub will exist as an innovative digital space, providing online access to digitised versions of our African and Caribbean collections, resources, outcomes from projects and training and advice on carrying out your own research projects.

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 relating specifically to the African and Caribbean collections and 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.

At its very core, the Hub’s intentions are for it to be created by, and for, anyone who identifies as having a connection to the cultures represented in our African and Caribbean collections.

How to get involved

We are looking for participants from the African and Caribbean diaspora to be part of focus-group style online sessions to collaboratively outline what the African and Caribbean Collections Research Hub needs to best serve the community. We are looking for a broad and diverse group, representing different interests, approaches and experiences. Together we will be making a toolkit on how to use the Hub and what resources are available to help people.

The African and Caribbean Research Hub project is taking place online to allow a range of people to participate and also in response to the challenges posed by Covid-19, but we hope that – when it is safe to do so – participants will be able to meet in person at the Horniman with other members of staff involved in the project.

We recognise that there are barriers to research, appropriate training, time and resources for African and Caribbean diaspora to engage with museums and heritage. Each session will therefore also have a training section via a talk or workshop to support digital accessibility and/or developing projects. These will be hosted by members of the diaspora that work across community, culture, creative and education sectors and Horniman staff.

There is a £150 honorarium per Hub session in recognition of each participant’s contribution and to cover expenses.

How to apply

We would like to invite you to share a short proposal with us of 200-300 words. Please tell us a bit about yourself, why you would like to assist with developing the African and Caribbean Collections Research Hub at the Horniman Museum, and what you hope to get out of the project.

Participants must be:

  • 18 years or older
  • Interested in finding out about the Horniman’s African and Caribbean collections
  •  Keen to develop ways to support the African and Caribbean diaspora to access information and resources within digital spaces
  • Willing to engage with the training talks and workshops
  • Available for 5 online sessions on Wednesdays from 9 February to 15 June
  • Able to access a computer and internet connection which will allow them to attend online sessions via Zoom
  • Registered, or able to register, as self-employed to receive payment

All applications should be sent to Sancha Gaere at sgaere@horniman.ac.uk by 2 February 2022.

We welcome applications from all members of the African and Caribbean diaspora. We are looking for a broad and diverse group, representing different interests, approaches and experiences. Please let us know if you need any access provision to support your application.

We aim to respond to all applications by 4 February 2022.

Please note any and all interest in the project is welcome, and applications are not judged on how well they are written.

As we would like to invite as broad a group as possible to participate, we will also be running several public guest speaker hosted sessions as part of the Hub, and will host two separate ad-hoc Hub development sessions in April and June.

Key dates

There will be five core group Hub sessions running from February to June. Each session will run on zoom from 11am-1.30pm.

  • 10 February
  • 10 March
  • 14 April
  • 12 May
  • 16 June

There will also be two ad-hoc hub sessions for non-core group participants running on 15 April and 17 June.

Session format

10.30am: Optional pre-briefing

11am: Session open

11.05am: Guest segment

11.45am: Break

12pm: Hub Development Segment – training workshop

12.45pm: Break

12.55pm: Hub development discussion – 35 minutes

1.30pm: Session closes

Online open-day event

We are holding an online open day for any interested parties to ask questions about the project and application process. It will be held on Wednesday 26 January at 12pm – 1.30pm.

If you would like to attend, please email sgaere@horniman.ac.uk.

The open-day will introduce potential participants to the Hub project and the African and Caribbean collections at the Horniman.

We will share with guests:

  • An outline of how the Hub project will be run and the commitment required
  • The outcomes from our previous Community Action Research and Rethinking Relationships projects
  • A short workshop to introduce objects from the Horniman’s online collection and using the search functionality
  • A description of the application process

We warmly welcome those who are interested in supporting access to the African and Caribbean collections at the Horniman to attend our open day event.

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.