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National Maritime Museum declares its failure to reflect the 'legacies of slavery' and 'black voices'


The National Maritime Museum has been accused of 'erasing' British history after declaring that one of its galleries fails to reflect the 'legacies' of slavery or 'black voices'.  

The south London-based institution's 'Atlantic Gallery' opened in 2007, focusing on the role the ocean has played as a route for the movement of goods, people and ideas over the centuries. 

But a recent display installed in the gallery now tells visitors that it 'no longer reflects the approaches or ambitions of the National Maritime Museum,' because the 'legacies of transatlantic slavery are noticeably absent and Black voices are not well represented in the space.' 

Visitors are invited to place their comments on pieces of paper in the gallery, under a banner that reads: 'How are you affected by the legacies of transatlantic slavery.'

As recently as July last year, information about the gallery on the museum's website did not display a message discrediting the existing space. 

But by November last year, a similar message to the one in the physical gallery had been added.  

The updated page adds that, to mark International Slavery Remembrance Day in 2021, five young people were invited to 'interrogate' the gallery. 

The message in the museum's gallery comes after the museum removed a bust of King George III that showed him flanked by two kneeling African men because it was a 'hurtful reinforcement of racial stereotypes'.

The institution said in 2021 that the figurehead, which is understood to have been created to celebrate Britain's victory at the Battle of Waterloo, was the subject of 'frequent criticism' and was 'a hurtful reinforcement of stereotypes' .