Glasgow Museums has a commitment to displaying and discussing its collections’ links to slavery. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum hosted a symposium in 2014 on ‘How Glasgow Flourished, 1714 -1837’. This complemented the exhibition of the same name and brought together academics and curators to explore various themes relating to the growth of Glasgow in this period. The talks were all recorded with the aim of providing a lasting resource for students learning about Scottish and Glaswegian history for National 5 and Higher History courses.
Guest speakers chose to talk about slavery to help students experience what life was like when slavery was rife in Glasgow. The first three talks either described or showed slaves directly. The last talk symbolized Glasgow’s Caribbean sugar trade, and its reliance on slavery. All of the talks related to objects that are in Glasgow Museums’ collection.
Sir Tom Devine spoke about John Glassford and his family portrait (acc. no. 2887), Professor John Cairns spoke about slaves who ran away as reported in newspapers, Dr Michael Morris spoke about the Wedgewood teapot showing a slave (acc. no. E.1937.75.c.1), and Dr Stephen Mullen spoke about a silver punch bowl (acc. no. E.1946.87.im) – Glasgow rum punch was famous in the 1700s for its availability and potency.
The project was developed as a partnership between Glasgow Museums and Professor Simon Newman and Nelson Mundell of the University of Glasgow. It was funded by a grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Podcasts and transcripts of all the talks can be found at https://howglasgowflourished.wordpress.com
Dr Anthony Lewis
Curator of Scottish History
For more information on Glasgow Museums’ collections please visit http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com
Images © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.