V&A Dundee begins work to decolonise its galleries

V&A Dundee

V&A Dundee has given some insight into why is its working to decolonise its galleries and how the process will work.

Decolonising museum collections has been a hot topic in recent years and V&A Dundee is the latest in a long line of museums to announce that it is committed to the task. Put simply, it is the process of acknowledging the West’s colonial past, and how both our society and our museum collections are often built on systems of oppression.

Meredith More, a curator at V&A Dundee, explains further:

“From now on, we plan to focus on a new theme each year to help bring in missing perspectives, allowing us to decentre prevailing narratives. Our focus in 2020/2021 is to begin decolonising the galleries, acknowledging that much of Scotland’s design history is built upon the exploitation of enslaved and colonised people around the world.”

Opening the conversation

“As a new design museum, we have no excuse for omitting and misrepresenting this history in our galleries,” says More. “Through collaboration, we will begin to address this by adapting our labels, bringing in new objects and developing a new commission. This is only a small start and it is more important than ever that we open the conversation beyond our walls.”

V&A Dundee believes that an important part of the process is to communicate with its audience and with the local community, and has invited people to join the conversation by using the hashtag #decoloniseSDG.

“The first step we’ve taken in this process is to re-write a number of object labels in our galleries so that they reflect a decolonial and transnational approach to Scotland’s design history,” adds More. “Some of these original labels omitted important details about the colonial context for the objects’ creation, while others unwittingly misrepresented the facts.”

Last month, Leonie Bell was announced as the new director of V&A Dundee, replacing Philip Long OBE.