A landmark exhibition exploring the impact of the Black Atlantic will be staged in the Museum’s historic Founder’s Galleries, which were built using the profits from enslavement and exploitation.
Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance brings together significant national and international loans with collections from across the University of Cambridge’s museums, libraries, and colleges to tell both a Cambridge story, and a global one. Using as its starting point the story of the Museum’s founder, Viscount Richard Fitzwilliam, whose family wealth came in part from the South Sea Company and East India Company, the exhibition charts a history from pre-colonial Africa and the Caribbean, the rise and racialisation of Atlantic enslavement, and histories of resistance by enslaved people and their allies.
Objects and artworks illustrating the financial, scientific, and commercial transformations in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain that came about because of enslaved labour are shown in dialogue with modern and contemporary artworks by artists including Donald Locke, Barbara Walker, Keith Piper and Jacqueline Bishop that respond to hidden histories and reveal stories of courage, resistance, hope and repair.
Black Atlantic is the first in a series of exhibitions and gallery interventions planned for 2023-2026.
This exhibition is curated by Dr Jake Subryan Richards, acclaimed early career historian of law, empire, and the African diaspora in the Atlantic world at the London School of Economics.
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Image: Barbara Walker, Vanishing Point 29 (Duyster), 2021. © Barbara Walker, 2023