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Museum of London Docklands launches new display in collaboration with Mind and Taking Shape Association

Museum of London Docklands has today opened Holding Emotions, a new display in collaboration with mental health charity Mind and youth organisation Taking Shape Association. The community-led display offers a space for people to connect and confront the complexity of emotions that they may feel after visiting the museum’s London, Sugar & Slavery gallery, one of the only permanent displays in the UK dedicated to the history of the transatlantic trade of enslaved people.

The display offers a range of mindfulness tools to help people confront emotions sparked by the gallery. It asks them to consider how we can reclaim objects and emotions connected to these histories, and invites people to sit, pause and contribute their own reflections to the space.

Holding Emotions was created in collaboration with a group of young people from Taking Shape. Over two days, they worked with specialist practitioners from Mind and staff from the Museum of London Docklands to explore wellness tools, the language of emotions, and the history of the transatlantic trade of enslaved people. The rich discussions that resulted from these sessions are reflected through the display, including a video of artistic responses from the group.

Shereen Hunte, Engagement Manager, Museum of London Docklands said: “Many assume museums are fixed places of history, rooted in the past. However, these buildings are brimming with personal community stories which spark an array of emotions in visitors. The London, Sugar & Slavery gallery is one of only a few galleries of its kind and we recognise that the history told in this space is important but naturally, emotional. We hope Holding Emotions will provide a space for people to explore these feelings. We’re grateful to our partners at Mind for informing this process, and the young people at Taking Shape for moulding the display.”

Kevin Stuart, CEO, Taking Shape Association, said: “Through our community programmes, we provide holistic support to young people to help them with their wellbeing. Resilience, emotional intelligence and spiritual awareness are all incredibly important skills, particularly when confronting difficult subjects like this. It’s really important we give our young people an opportunity to process, engage and reclaim their history and give them the chance to have their voices heard. I’m hugely proud of what our group have achieved with this display.”

Bethany Thompson, Senior Race Equity Project Officer, Mind said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity to work together with the culture and heritage sector to see how we can support mental wellbeing in our public spaces. We’re really pleased to be working with Museum of London Docklands to champion this approach with Holding Emotions. It’s a great example of how museums can address important aspects of our history whilst supporting the communities they serve.”

Holding Emotions is supported by funding from Arts Council England. A new monthly family programme inspired by the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery will launch in April this year. New school sessions linked to the gallery will be available for teachers to book from September 2024.

Notes for editors

Press images are available here.

About The Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is located at West India Quay in east London. Opened in 2003, it occupies one of the few remaining original grade one listed warehouses, built in 1802 to store produce from the West Indies.

A shared place in the heart of the East End, where stories cross and collide, it confidently shows how international trade, migration, enslavement and the river Thames were integral to shaping London and the world we live in today.

The museum is open 7 days a week, from 10am-5pm and is FREE to all. You can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added regularly.