The Museum of London is running an ambitious four-year programme to change the way we collect objects and stories in the city. Domenico Sergi, Senior Curator of the Curating London programme, explains how we’re changing to research and collect contemporary London.
What does it mean to be human in London today?
Cities are important social laboratories, and London is one of the world’s greatest cities. For centuries cities have been at the centre of global networks, attracting all sorts of knowledge and cultures. The Museum of London holds an extraordinary collection which tells the story of how Londoners have lived in the city from prehistoric to modern times.
Curating London will enrich our existing collection by working with people to collect 21st century London. We will bring peoples’ knowledge and lived experiences at the heart of collecting capturing the richness of contemporary London.
We want our collections to reflect the multiple perspectives and experiences of contemporary London. Museum collections are shaped by particular hierarchies of knowledge, which have marginalised and often excluded certain community voices and worldviews. The knowledge coming from people’s lived experience has been traditionally overlooked and deemed unworthy of museum collections.
Curating London brings this experience to the core, working with communities and individuals whose stories are not reflected in our collection.
What does this mean in practice?
Every year we will run four collecting projects around the city: one pan-London project exploring a particular theme across the city, and three local studies where we zoom in a particular area.
Here are Curating London’s four collecting projects that we’re carrying out this year.
Dub Reggae is working across London to research dub music, collecting and recording not just a sound, but also the culture and experience behind it.
Finsbury Park: the Archaeology of Now collects objects left behind in Finsbury Park over the course of a year, building up a picture of how different people use the park.
Tower Hamlets: Weaving Diaspora works with British-Bangladeshi women to explore the relationship between dress and identity.
North Kensington: Collecting Ends explores how young people understand West London and how we can document their lives in our collections.
Curating London is also working at the Museum of London Docklands:
Community History at Docklands: How can we work locally to acknowledge contemporary Black experiences in London?
Curating London: collecting the city
How do you reflect the depth and diversity of life in modern London? What the Museum of London plans to change over the next four years.
Collecting Dub Reggae
How is our Curating London project trying to record a music and a culture in a museum?
How has Brexit changed your relationship with London? Submit a video to the Museum of London.