AWAY Television series reveals
secrets from the Empire Museum
of museum collections are in boxes - history unseen until now.
Away’ delves into the stores of South West museums to reveal treasures
previously hidden from public view.
24th July at 5pm, ITV West
THE BRITISH EMPIRE & COMMONWEALTH MUSEUM
Currency, crowns, photos and film.
A Wildfire Bristol
production for ITV1 West.
Museum nominated for a major award for a record third year
British Empire & Commonwealth Museum in Bristol has been short-listed
as a finalist for the 2005 Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence.
It is the only museum in Britain to have been nominated in each of the
three years since the Awards began. The presentation ceremony will take
place at London's Cafe Royal on Wednesday, 11th May and is to be hosted
by journalist and author Sophie Raworth.
year’s nomination is for ‘Pow Wow’, the Museum’s
current special exhibition about England’s attempts to colonise
North America in the 16th and 17th Centuries. ‘Pow Wow’
was designed and built by Bristol-based Codsteaks, set makers best known
for the successful Wallace and Gromit films. The exhibition runs until
the end of 2005.
Museum’s permanent exhibition was an outright winner in the inaugural
Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence in 2003, in a category rewarding
creativity and innovation. The Museum was also given a highly commended
award the same year for ‘Commonwealth FM’, its community
radio project. In 2004, the Museum’s special exhibition ‘On
Your Marks’, received a nomination in the category of ‘best
temporary or touring exhibition’ and it is for this award that
‘Pow Wow’ has been shortlisted this year.
only other cultural institution that has also received a nomination
each year since the awards began is Falmouth Art Gallery.
Native American Dance troupe to perform at the Empire Museum
One of America’s leading Native American Dance troupes will be
performing in Britain for the very first time this Easter. The First
Nations Dance Company will be the highlight of the British Empire &
Commonwealth Museum’s Native American Festival, which takes place
between the 25th March and the 10th April.
Flying into Britain, direct from New Mexico, a dozen performers from
the First Nations Dance Company will entertain audiences with a series
of spectacular music and dance shows inside the Museum’s passenger
Ten dancers and two musicians representing the Apache, Zuni, Navajo,
Lakota and Caddo tribes will perform traditional dances such as the
Inter-tribal War Dance, the Men’s Chicken Dance, the Snake Dance
and the Men’s Fast and Fancy War dance.
The performances will also feature special women-only dances, including
the Scalp Dance, traditionally performed at ceremonies to honour the
sons, brothers and fathers who served in battle. Historically, men in
returning "war parties" were acclaimed by the women of the
tribe when they brought back "A'sku." (scalp locks). A lock
of hair was tied by Scalp Dance leaders to the end of a pole which represented
the lance which the women would then use in their dance.
The troupe will be allowing members of the audience to join in with
selected dances, such as the Round Dance, which is a children’s
First Nations’ performer ‘Sky Medicine Bear’ says:
"Performing in the UK will be a fascinating experience. As we have
performed in other places in Europe, we are excited and proud to showcase
our Native American culture for the British people".
Tickets for the shows can be booked in advance by calling 0117 925 4980.
Performances scheduled for the 26, 28 29 and 30 March and the 1st and
2nd April and are suitable for all ages from three years upwards.
The Native American Festival also features food tasting, storytelling
and traditional Native American arts and crafts. The Festival is part
of a year-long programme of major events to accompany Pow Wow, the Museum’s
popular exhibition about England’s attempts to colonize North
America in the 16th and 17th centuries.
celebrates International Women's Day
To mark International Women’s
Day, an evening of performance and presentations by women writers is
to be held at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum on Tuesday,
Members of Vivida (Bristol’s Asian women’s writing group)
and Bristol Black Writers are collaborating for a combined show, entitled
‘Breathing Fire’, using the Museum as their inspiration
as well as location. The event is open to the public with all proceeds
from ticket sales to be donated to the Tsunami Appeal.
The audience will be guided from one location in the gallery to another
as the evening goes on and organisers promise a thought-provoking and
Anger, conflict, ambivalence, celebration and ownership are all words
that are flung around by the women while talking about the museum.
This is what some of the participants have to say:
Jenny Davis, member of Bristol Black Writers says "I like the museum
a lot, it’s a very rich place. It’s an uncomfortable part
of our history - our stories are buried there in those archives, between
Maithreyi Nandakumar, part of Vivida, says: "So much of me is here
in this museum. The first time I came to see it, I was shocked at the
strength of my own reaction. This is a chance to voice those thoughts
aloud, and share them".
Baljinder Bhopal attends both groups; "The poet being witness is
a strong force. It’s a powerful location to be performing in and
I’m looking forward to the experience."
‘Breathing Fire’ takes place at the British Empire &
Commonwealth Museum this International Women’s day, Tuesday, 8th
March at 6.30 p.m. Tickets cost £3.50 and can be booked in advance
by calling 0117 925 4980.
War Graves Commission
To coincide with the 60th Anniversary
of the end of the Second World War, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
today launched Anthem for Remembrance – a Commonwealth-wide music
composition competition for students aged 23 and under.
Anthem for Remembrance was inspired by the grave of Hugh Gordon Langton,
a brilliant violinist who was killed in the First World War. His family
used a small musical phrase, instead of words, as an inscription on
his headstone to express their feelings of sorrow. Using the musical
inscription on Hugh’s headstone as inspiration, the Commission
is challenging students across the Commonwealth to compose a short piece
of music expressing their view on remembrance.
Peter Francis, spokesperson for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
said, "When remembering the men and women who have lost their lives
in the two world wars, it can sometimes be difficult to find the best
thing to say. Music can be a powerful alternative and with this in mind
we have launched Anthem for Remembrance – an imaginative means
of encouraging young people to think about how they want to remember
those who died."
Entries must be received by 30 June and will be accepted in three categories,
according to age. The judging panel will include world famous composer
Mark-Anthony Turnage and renowned musician Piers Adams. A fantastic
package of prizes, including the chance for the winners to have their
entry professionally recorded, has been put together by the Commission,
with the help and support of The Royal British Legion.
Peter added, "We are not sure what we are going to get –
it is very exciting! The winning entry might be a classically inspired
piece or a rap song. It’s all about the students using their imagination
and having fun, while tackling a serious topic and perhaps challenging
some of our views on how to remember the war dead."
"We are very grateful to The Royal British Legion, Mark-Anthony
Turnage and Piers Adams and all those who have supported this initiative.
We are looking forward to a huge response."
More details can be found at http://www.cwgc.org/education/anthem.htm
or by contacting
Peter Francis on 01628 507163.
needs your old stamps!
The Museum has just launched a new appeal encouraging people to send
in their old stamps.
Old, used, new, foreign or unused - the Museum would like them all.
The Museum is also collecting coins, tokens, banknotes, postcards, First
day covers and interesting envelopes.
in your collections to:
Empire & Commonwealth Museum, FREEPOST NAT 5540, Bristol BS1 6FA.
Of course using a stamp increases your charitable giving - but every
named 'Best in the Region' in new museum guide
The British Empire
& Commonwealth Museum has been named 'Best in the Region' in 'Britain's
best museums and galleries', a new book written by Mark Fisher which
celebrates the museums of the British Isles and their contents.
Mark Fisher has travelled across Britain, from the West of Ireland to
East Anglia, from the Orkneys to St. Ives, to select the best 350: famous
and little-known, international and local; collections of fashion; flying
machines and fans; ceramics and motorcars; boots, shoes and lasts; great
works of art.
In an in-depth piece on the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum,
Mark Fisher comments on the use of audio-visual technology in the Museum
galleries to present the individual experience of empire: "This
archive is a triumph, as impressive a use of video as in any British
comes to Britain gallery: Just one example of how audio-visual technology
is used to present the personal experience of empire.
acquires Ordnance Survey Archives
The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum is one of five institutions
acquired archive material from the Ordnance Survey International Library
. The handover is part of the Ordnance Survey's mission to improve access
to the library and as a result the British Empire & Commonwealth
Museum is now home to an archive of 1.5 million aerial photographs and
associated survey data of 60 mainly Commonwealth countries. The archived
items date mainly from 1946 to 1999, although there are some maps from
the 19th century that were acquired in the 1940s. A second set of the
mapping, and relevant items from the book library have also been placed
in the Museum’s Library. These records will be available to the
public in the near future.For further information about accessing the
material, email Jo Hopkins in the still image archive on email@example.com.
Other collections from the Ordnance Surveys International Library can
be found in the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office),
The Royal Geographical Society, The British Film Institute’s National
Film and TV Archive and the University of Portsmouth.
wins top education award
The British Empire
& Commonwealth Museum in Bristol received an education
award at a special ceremony at the Thackray Museum in Leeds this week.
The award was given in recognition of the quality of the education services
provided by the Museum.
Commenting on the Museum’s success, the Judges said "education
is at the heart of this museum dedicated to studying Britain’s imperial
past in order to understand our multicultural present. The young, energetic
and enthusiastic staff deserve their success".
The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum attracts over 12,000 pupils
per year from schools and colleges from across the south-west and even
further afield. The Museum’s education programme, 'Learning Journeys',
offers a variety of educational experiences, ranging from workshops for
under six to lectures and seminars for adult learners.
'Learning Journeys' covers a range of current issues from slavery to fair
trade, poverty to human rights. Through 'Learning Journeys' students are
able to get a view of the world from a non-western perspective, focusing
on aspects of life and culture in different countries across the Commonwealth.
The Sandford Award for Heritage Education is the latest of many awards
won by the Museum since opening in September 2002. It was a finalist for
the title of ‘European Museum of the Year’ in 2004 and is
a previous winner in the Museums and Heritage annual Awards for Excellence.
Chester Zoo, HMS Belfast and the Roman Baths were also among the winners
the 2004 award.
Rachel Alderson from the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum (right),
is presented with the Sandford Award by Anne Green, Chairman of the Trustees
of the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
Indian Club of Tulsa wowed crowds at Museum
The Museum was host to a series of performances
by the Intertribal Indian Club of Tulsa who headlined the Musem's October
half-term programme. The famous dance troupe in full Native American costume
adorned with feathers and beads, wowed audiences with their colourful
music and dance shows inside the Museum’s Passenger Shed.
The performers showcased several dances unique to the Cherokee and Creek
tribes. The Fancy War Dance and the Grass Dance are the highlight of traditional
Native American gatherings – or Powwows - which celebrate the continuation
of Native American Culture.
out for more Native American themed events next year featuring storytellers,
dancers and a showcase of Native Amedrican film.
Photos by Dave Pratt
Merchant Seamen Honoured at Museum
British Empire & Commonwealth Museum is the first port of call for
an important new touring exhibition about the role of the Merchant Navy
in the Second World War. Opening on Remembrance Day, Thursday 11th November,
"Cruel Sea" reveals the little known experiences of Merchant
"Cruel Sea" has been created in partnership with Age Exchange,
a charity that promotes the use of reminiscence in the arts. The exhibition
explores through photographs, sound and film the extraordinary and moving
stories of survivors from Bristol who served during the darkest days of
the Second World War.
More than 30,000 Merchant seafarers from across the Empire lost their
lives on British Merchant ships. Approximately one in four of these seamen
were killed during the Second World War. Over 3,000 Merchant ships were
sunk. Yet despite these heavy losses the Merchant Navy continued to bring
home food and raw materials from around the world. Their courage in facing
terrible conditions at sea and at war enabled Britain to endure and to
feed itself at a time when defeat and not victory seemed almost inevitable.
Age Exchange and the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum have been
working closely with members of the Bristol Merchant Navy Association
whose stories provide the backdrop to the exhibition. Fifteen students
from Bristol’s City Academy, aged between 13 and 14, volunteered
to be a part of this intergenerational project, which involved them interviewing
veterans of the Bristol Merchant Navy Association.
One of the individuals featured is Leonard Dib Western who, like many
of the veterans, joined the Merchant Navy at the age of 15. He describes
how he sailed out from Bristol on a Norwegian ship:
"Mother was going to come down with my brothers to see me off. Only
we went at 10 o’clock, so I missed them. I was very sea sick, from
here to Barry. It was on a Sunday evening. I sat under a lifeboat, a hole
in my sock and I was so homesick I broke my heart"
Other Bristol Merchant veterans interviewed include Bob Bromley, Gerald
Warden, Bill Wann, Ray Buck, Tom Scotland and Ray Pearce.
"Cruel Sea" is the first project of its kind ever undertaken,
bringing together partners from veterans, museums, artists, filmmakers,
voluntary associations and educational professionals who have worked together
to share and represent first hand experience of the war at sea. After
appearing at the Museum it will continue its national tour visiting ports
including Liverpool, Plymouth, Newcastle, Southampton and Falmouth .
The Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Simon Cook, will formally launch
the exhibition at 4.15pm at a special private viewing for members of the
Merchant Navy Association.
"Cruel Sea" will be on display until the 11th February 2005
in the Museum’s Cafe Gallery and is included in the cost of admission
to the Museum.
The ideal Christmas present
Membership to the
British Empire & Commonwealth Museum makes a unique gift for the whole
family. A family membership to the Museum can cost as little as £40
for unlimited entry to the Museum’s ever- changing programme of
events and exhibitions. This represents excellent value with members gaining
access to additional events such as school holiday activities, new exhibitions
and lectures and seminars absolutely free. Family membership provides
the ideal solution for those hard to buy for families, a unique gift that
will give the lucky family or individual lots of exciting days out all
Benefits of Membership:
Unlimited free entry to the Museum and temporary exhibitions
Free entry to school holiday activities, lectures and seminars
Members’ magazine ""Newsline"
Invitations to exclusive members’ events
One Free Guest for adult members
Cost of membership
Joint Membership £40
Family Membership is worked out on a person –by –person basis:
Adult £20 (Maximum of Two)
Child £5 (no maximum)
To find out more,
contact Rachel Alderson on 0117 925 4980 ext 209 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively click on the following:
Friends Membership Form
Standing Order Form
Common Language in Bristol
A unique project, which looks at one of the most enduring
influences of the British Empire, the spread of the English language,
will be showcased at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum on the
5th October at 5pm.
The event will mark the completion of a year-long project funded by the
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, entitled Language and legacy in Empire.
The project looks at the influence of the former Empire on language and
how it has affected vocabulary, accents and even cadence of voice of people
from all over the Commonwealth.
The Museum has worked with CEED (Centre for Employment and Enterprise)
to collect over fifty interviews from Bristol’s Asian, African and
Afro-Caribbean communities. The interviewees were all aged between 18
and 30 years old and have family links to former Empire and Commonwealth
countries. The project was designed to heighten awareness of the richness
and variety of spoken language in contemporary Britain.
Dharani Naidoo, the Museum’s education facilitator and manager of
the project, says that the recordings provide "a snap shot of second
and third generation immigrant experiences in this country. The essence
of culture, identity, life experience and the effect of the English and
Commonwealth languages on contemporary society have all been captured
in this exciting project".
The project allowed the interviewees to reflect on their use of language.
In one interview a 26 year old Gujarati Indian tells of how he threw himself
into sport as a way of becoming accepted, as communicating in English
didn't come straight away. He learnt English through children's television
programmes, while his mother taught him Gujarati.
Some of the testimonies will be broadcast on the Museum’s own radio
station, Commonwealth FM, which will broadcast to Bristol from the 1 –
30 November. They will also be accessible to researchers in the Museum’s
oral history archive which covers a vast range of views, opinions, anecdotes
and experience from people who lived and worked in the former Empire and
For further details of how to access these recordings, please contact
Dharani Naidoo on 0117 925 4980 ext 235 or email email@example.com