Opening up the collections

Sancha Gaere tells us about the African and Caribbean Collections Research Hub and how you can get involved in opening up the collections.

My name is Sancha Gaere (she/her). I’m South Sudanese and British and based in South London. I’m delighted to have joined the Horniman as the Digital Co-ordinator for the development of an African and Caribbean Collections Hub. The Hub has been awarded support from the Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund and is the next stage of support for members of the African and Caribbean community. It follows the Community Action Research and Rethinking Relationships initiatives.

What is the Hub?

The Hub will be created by, and for, anyone who identifies as having a connection to the African and Caribbean collections.

It will exist as a dedicated and dynamic digital space. Access will be provided to:

  • Digitised versions of the African and Caribbean collections
  • Project outcomes
  • Training and resources to upskill community members
  • Support in carrying out research projects.

The main incentive for the Hub is to open up the Horniman’s African and Caribbean collections to under-represented communities. The aim is to remove barriers to access, enabling people to use the collections to inspire research and debate.

How will it work?

As with bringing any concept into fruition, there are some fundamental questions to be asked:

  • How will this Hub best serve the community that justifies its existence?
  • What functionality and resources are needed?

These questions cannot be answered without representation from the community that the Hub intends to support. This is why we will be holding a series of focus-group style sessions supporting the Hub’s creation, inviting community members to collectively help both ask and answer questions.

Through five regular and two ad-hoc group sessions, the Hub’s fundamental necessities will be outlined and a user-friendly toolkit developed to help African and Caribbean communities navigate the Hub.

The Horniman recognises that there are barriers to research, appropriate training, time and resources for African and Caribbean diaspora to engage with museums and heritage.

With this in mind, each session will have a training section. These talks and workshops will support digital accessibility and developing projects. Members of the diaspora that work across community, culture, creative and education sectors will host them.

Join the virtual open day

If you’d like to hear more about the project you can join us for a virtual Hub open day on 26 January at 12pm. You can hear how you can get involved and have any questions answered.

Anyone is welcome who has an interest in exploring their African and Caribbean connection and/or supporting the community, particularly through digital solutions.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the sessions will happen remotely via Zoom. When it’s safe to do so, we hope we can move to in person activities.

After the open-day event we will be accepting applications to take part in the project. We are looking for a mix of Caribbean and African diaspora to be part of the Hub group.

If you would like to attend the virtual open day or would like more information, email

A big thank you to anyone who has already expressed interest in the legacy of the Horniman’s previous African and Caribbean focused projects. We’re so excited to have some of you joining this next stage!