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Head of International Slavery Museum Liverpool Appointed


National Museums Liverpool are delighted to announce the appointment of Richard Benjamin to the position of Head of International Slavery Museum. In this crucial role Richard will play a key part in the development of the new museum, due to open in 2007, the bicentenary of the abolition of the British Slave Trade.

Formerly the Community Consultation Co-ordinator for National Museums Liverpool, Richard has recently completed a PhD in Archaeology and throughout his career has combined academic research with community work to provide wide-ranging experience ideal for the role.

Having undertaken a visiting research scholarship at the WEB DuBois Institute of African and African American Research, Harvard University in 2002 Richard went on to become a Widening Participation Officer at the University of Liverpool where he worked with black and minority ethnic communities to provide routes to education.

David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool, said ‘The combination of Richard’s academic background, his ongoing links with the community and his engaging inter-personal skills made him a great prospect for this challenging position.’

Richard Benjamin, Head of International Slavery Museum, said of his appointment ‘I am extremely proud to be given the opportunity of heading this world class museum and research centre which looks at both the historical and contemporary aspects of slavery. I aim to make the museum a valuable resource for the local community, as well as visitors from elsewhere, which not only acts as an instrument of education but as a tool of social change to challenge many of the misconceptions generally held towards the subject of slavery and its legacy.’

To commemorate the bicentenary year National Museums Liverpool is creating a new International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, which will build on the groundbreaking Transatlantic Slavery Gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, opened by Dr Maya Angelou in 1994.

The galleries of the museum will open on Slavery Remembrance Day 2007 (23 August) a day that commemorates an uprising of the enslaved Africans on the island of St Domingo (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1791. Designated by UNESCO, the date was chosen as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.

Liverpool was once Europe’s capital of the transatlantic slave trade in the late 18th Century and grew rich on the profits of trading in enslaved people. It is therefore fitting that this subject should be marked and explored in the city.

The museum galleries will feature new dynamic and thought-provoking displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade. Crucially, it will include new displays about the legacy of transatlantic slavery and will address issues such as freedom, identity, human rights, reparation claims, racial discrimination and cultural change.

The project will include the development of a new visitor-focused resource centre with an events programme of performance, public lectures and debate using the newly-acquired Dock Traffic Office. A research institute based in the museum is being developed in partnership with the University of Liverpool.

To commemorate 2007 there will be a full programme of events and activities ranging from a series of debates to a schools twinning programme.