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£250,000 project for community groups to research collections in galleries, libraries, archives and museums across the UK 

15 November 2021

National Museums Scotland has been awarded a grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with the National Maritime Museum, London to enable organisations around the UK to work with community groups to explore experiences of empire, migration, and life in Britain through their collections.

The £250,000 pilot project, entitled Exchange: Community-Led Collections Research, will see funding distributed to galleries, libraries, archives and museums to work with South Asian, African and African-Caribbean diaspora organisations to answer research questions identified by these community groups. 

The year-long project will see National Museums Scotland and the National Maritime Museum, London working as a hub; gathering evidence for best practice guidelines, providing expert guidance and holding a central fund which will be distributed to partner organisations around the UK. 

Outputs will include new research into the historic and contemporary meanings of objects, which will inspire new, creative projects defined by community groups and centred around partner organisations’  collections. These will challenge and expand on established representations of diaspora experiences. 

Dr John Giblin, Keeper of World Cultures at National Museums Scotland said: 

“We want to support greater equality, diversity and inclusion within the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector in the UK. To do this we need to consider who is visiting our institutions and what they find there when they do. We need to invest more work in how histories of empire, migration and life in Britain are told from the perspective of diaspora communities. This generous grant from the AHRC will allow organisations to work with UK communities who have historically been marginalised in museum and gallery displays to reveal and share a wider range of stories and perspectives.” 

Dr Robert Blyth, Senior Curator of World and Maritime History, National Maritime Museum said: 

 “This exciting project, generously funded by the AHRC, will bring new and diverse perspectives to bear on the histories of empire, migration and life in Britain. Working with community groups and regional partners, the project will foster creative dialogues and suggest future ways of collaboration to explore these often contested but important subjects. Ultimately, bringing collections and communities together will increase our collective understanding of a shared past and present.” 

Confirmed partner organisations in Scotland include Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, Glasgow Life and David Livingstone Birthplace. In England, they include the Museum of the Home, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Brunel’s  SS Great Britain and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums.   


15 November 2021

Further information and images from: Alice Wyllie or Bruce Blacklaw, National Museums Scotland Press Office on 0131 247 4288/4165 or email or 

Notes to editors 

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display. 

  2. Royal Museums Greenwich incorporates the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the 17th-century Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. This unique collection of museums and heritage buildings, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes visitors from around the world and is also a major centre of education and research. The mission of Royal Museums Greenwich is to enrich people’s understanding of the sea, the exploration of space, and Britain's role in world history. For more information visit  

  3. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe.

  4. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach. 


Header image: The Grand Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland 

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