Museum of Colour – People of Letters

People of Letters is the pilot project for Museum of Colour, a digital museum focused on the creative journeys of British people of colour.  The gallery is curated by David A. Bailey and the portrait subjects selected by Joy Williams and Samenua Sesher

Resistance and Transformation

Museum of Colour (MoC) is a research project focussed on the creative journeys of British people of colour.

The overarching aim of the museum is to build a digital platform that will celebrate the contribution made by People of Colour to the UK’s creative industries.

We will do this by:

  1. Building online galleries with new content, interviews and digital artefacts
  2. Creating an online MoC Academy which will hold the most relevant and compelling writing on the subject in one place
  3. Working in partnership with others to weave performance, debate and participation into the fabric of the museum

The name Museum of Colour (MoC) offers a ‘double entendre’: it reflects the vision outlined above – but more importantly provides a reminder of the primary definition of colour: a sensory experience that aids perception and variety. The project is people-centred and will explore the work, the perspectives and everyday lives of creative individuals who have made their mark during a time when skin colour is a loaded, contested and emotional subject.

The aspirations for the museum are permanence, trusted content, quality live events and interesting projects delivered in partnership. It will have a thoughtfully curated aesthetic; an accessible and participatory user experience; and provide enticement to greater engagement with the archive material of our partners.

Why now?

A digital environment provides the space, flexibility and participatory, self-directed capability to bring art forms together in ways that buildings can struggle to do. It enables the site-visitor to choose where and how they take part in the MoC digital experience. A digital environment is not only versatile it is also extremely measurable – so that the MoC will be able to respond to site-visitors as the museum grows and develops. and the users’ journey through the MoC digital environment can be personalised by the user. This is very much. It allows us create critical mass, provide context and better appreciate the impact.

Project team

People’s Palace Projects (PPP) is an arts research organisation based at Queen Mary University London. It delivers a wide variety of cultural interventions and projects based on the following questions: How do people transform their worlds through creativity and the Arts? What difference can art make for those who live in situations of risk, violence and crisis? Who are the artists on the peripheries of our societies and how are they working to bring about change? The organisation always works in collaboration with other organisations.

The PPP associate leading MoC is Samenua Sesher OBE. Samenua is a creative, coach and consultant who works with arts leaders, groups and boards to facilitate and support enquiry, exploration, reflection, development and progress at an individual, operational and strategic level.  At Arts Council England she was the director of decibel the £3m, five-year, cross-artform diversity programme. She also commissioned the poems for the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, which became the innovative book I Have Found a Song a ‘richly diverse selection of new poems interspersed with elaborate and exciting visual contributions’ by five invited artists. Samenua has contributed to national cultural policy as a commentator, facilitator and interviewee and set up and ran London local authority Kensington and Chelsea’s culture service. She was a 2008/09 Clore Fellow and is a regular speaker and guest lecturer.

Eric Huntley - Political and Cultural Activist

Credit: Photo© Sharron Wallace Photography

To find out more about the pilot gallery of Museum of Colour, please click at the link.