Nottingham’s first Caribbean history, heritage and culture museum

The Founder and Director of SKN Heritage Museum – Nottingham’s first and only Caribbean history, heritage and culture museum – has enough reason to rally us all to join her in celebrating the first birthday of her brainchild.

Having come to fruition in October 2014, in conception at least, the SKN Heritage Museum was officially launched and “sponsored by The House of Fraser” on 12 February 2015.

“I had to convince local authorities and the community that it was necessary. People don’t want to talk about slavery, because lots of people feel they have integrated into the British culture and feel they are no longer connected to the Caribbean history”, Founder Catherine Ross told TNT.

Already with a NimFest Award in their name, and successful exhibitions, the self-funded museum, has covered quite some ground in such a short space of time.

After holding 4 major exhibitions to which other ethnicities came, there was realisation from non-Caribbean people of the many similarities between their cultures and the Caribbean culture.

“What we found were the common phrases ‘we are all connected really’ and ‘we have so much in common’ if we shared these intimate images about home life and so on. We have more to celebrate than to be against each other for”, Ross said.

Uniquely, the SKN Museum “is taking the museum to ‘the people’” rather than be solely based in a building. Inspiringly, Ross is taking the museum’s exciting exhibitions to different venues like at the 2015 carnival, where many “were expecting dancing and food, we had this educational tent. The exhibition was shown in there”.

What seems to fuel Ross even more is the feedback she gets from people from different parts of the country. Visitors to her exhibition have cited they’ve not got anything like this in their cities.

An example of an exhibition at the museum is ‘Home to Home’ – From Caribbean Isles to British Isles. Ross described, “It’s an exhibition done in suitcases because when they [Caribbeans] came in the 50’s, they brought all their worldly possessions and tools of their trade here. So we had artefacts that young ones recognised” as their grandparents owned the same items.

Ultimately, the museum has led to people either donating some artefacts or giving their oral history. This alone is a promising feat that serves as proof of the museum’s necessity within the community.

 

TNT Arts & Culture Yasin Chinembiri

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