A British curator claims that British museums have to take full responsibility for the history they benefit from slavery.

David A Bailey is a radical British Black Arts member who said his exhibit of Caribbean-British artwork at Tate Britain in London explored the museum’s own “chequered” past.

The original Tate collection was funded in the late 19th Century by Sir Henry Tate, who made his fortune as a sugar refiner – a trade linked to slave labour in the Caribbean.

In August 2019, Tate’s association with slavery was stated by the museum in a statement. However, it said that Tate ‘wasn’t a slaver-owner nor a slave trader’ and that it wasn’t possible to seperate Tate galleries from the colonial slavery history from where they partially derive their existence.

According to Tate, the sugar industry upon which Tate built his firm ‘was absolutely built on the foundations of slavery in 17th and 18th century’. They also claimed that it was closely connected with slave-grown sugar.

Tate Britain has recently come under fire for its Hogarth and Europe exhibition, in which the 18th Century paintings are presented with notes about their “Sexual violence and slavery”  

M. Bailey spoke out about Life Between Islands. Caribbean-British Art 1950s. He told The Guardian that he was trying to consider the responsibility of museums in today’s climate. This is especially true for those museums with a long history of patronage.

British museums including Tate Britain (pictured) must take responsibility for their history of benefitting from slavery, a curator has claimed

A curator claims that British museums, including Tate Britain (pictured), must accept responsibility for slavery-related history.

David A Bailey (pictured), a member of the radical British Black Arts movement founded in the 1980s, said that his exhibition of Caribbean-British art at the Tate Britain in London explores the museum’s own ‘chequered’ past

David A Bailey, a member in exile of the British Black Arts Movement in the 1980s said his show of Caribbean-British Art at Tate Britain in London explored the museum’s ‘chequered past’

“That’s now been resurrected around the post-slavery question and the sugar industry. This is mentioned in some works of the show.

“I believe that one of the most important things for our institution is to take ownership around these questions and consider what the legacy will be of these elements into the future.

He stated that the major European powers had a post-colonial past. These baggages are carried on by different generations and resurface when they are inherited. It will not go away.

Tate Britain was contacted for comment. 

This four-month long exhibit by Mr Bailey explores the art of the Windrush generation, who immigrated to Britain from the 50s to witness the birth of Black power. This exhibit will also highlight Caribbean-British culture: from dub, reggae, and annual carnivals to the Black power movement. From December 1, 2022, it is at Tate Britain.

Tate Britain was recently criticised for how it approached its Hogarth & Europe exhibition. Some called this ‘wokeish drivel’.

The original Tate collection was funded in the late 19th Century by Sir Henry Tate (pictured), who made his fortune as a sugar refiner – a trade linked to slave labour in the Caribbean. In August 2019, the museum said in a statement about Tate’s ‘association with slavery’ that the industrialist ‘was not a slaver-owner or slave trader’, but that ‘it is not possible to separate the Tate galleries from the history of colonial slavery from which in part they derive their existence’

The original Tate collection was funded in the late 19th Century by Sir Henry Tate (pictured), who made his fortune as a sugar refiner – a trade linked to slave labour in the Caribbean. The museum stated in August 2019 that Tate was not an owner or trader of slaves, and that it is impossible to distinguish Tate galleries from colonial slavery history from which they are derived in part.

Head of the National Gallery explains that museums can’t remain politically neutral or silent in light of Black Lives Matter. 

According to the National Gallery’s head, museums cannot remain neutral or silent in light of Black Lives Matter, he said.

Gabriele Finaldi explained to his board that the publicly funded museums had in the past’refrained’ from making political statements and instead sought to “respond to events through their activities”.

However, due to the strength of Black Lives Matter’s resurgence in the UK and US over the past year, ‘a neutral approach was not possible’.

According to the minutes of a June 2020 board meeting, Mr Finaldi said that “the climate had changed” so that it was perceived by some as complicit in racist acts.

Tate Britain has opened a new exhibition that highlights 18th Century painter William Hogarth’s works. It also highlights what the curators call’sexual violence’, antisemitism, and racism in Hogarth’s art.

Alex Farquharson the director of the museum, said that it was defending its strategy to The Art Newspaper. He stated, “Tate Britain both has the confidence to offer a public forum for these conversations, and the expertise necessary to make them happen directly.”

Hogarth, Europe and A Midnight Modern Conversation are two of Hogarth’s early famous works. It shows drunken men consuming large quantities of alcohol.

According to The Telegraph the label informs visitors that while the scene is supposed to be comical, the punch they drink or the tobacco they use can provide material links to the wider world of commerce and exploitation as well as slavery.

A catalogue accompanying the painting says the men may be ‘queasily celebrating such manly misdemeanours – what we might today called ‘laddishness’.’

According to the accompanying commentary, Hogarth’s self-portrait, in which he is seated on a wooden seat while painting, should be seen alongside the context of slavery.

The report comes as three of Britain’s most famous museums support a new one that criticizes the ‘altering history’ through the destruction of statues, street renaming, and school curriculum changes without an ‘rigorous, nonpartisan approach’.

Nicholas Coleridge of Victoria and Albert Museum was the chairman. Sir Ian Blatchford was the Science Museum director and Dr Samir Shaikh, Chairman of the Museum of the Home, supported the paper that Trevor Phillips wrote.

The report warned about a “growing trend to modify public history and heritage with no due process”.

Report argues that decision-makers overreach themselves to activists and pressure groups, while institutions need to ‘pay due attention’ the opinions and sentiments and donors and members of taxpayers.

It stated that decisions regarding’re-interpreting history’ should be made in full transparency, and all changes must comply with law.

Coleridge said that Coleridge’s recommendations are ‘practical and rigorous, but above all sensible.

He stated that he was certain that any institution or board would be better off to carefully examine the documents than making a hasty, prejudicious and incorrectly-taken decision.

Sir Ian said it was an ‘unanimous guideline to achieve change that is thoughtful, sustainable and not anxious or panicked’.

There are no items or products in any of these museums that were called upon to be removed or changed by activists or groups.