Updated: Jul 13, 2022
Photo : From left to right – Melanie Hollis (Curator at Ipswich Museums), Elma Glasgow (founder and co-director of Aspire Black Suffolk), Glen Chisholm (Community Curator for Power of Stories), Iszi Lawrence (comedian & show presenter) stand in a row, smiling widely into the camera with the award.
Photo credit – Simon Callaghan
The ‘Oscars of the museums world’, the Museum and Heritage Awards, announced at an event on Wednesday 11 May in London that Ipswich Museums' ‘Power of Stories’ had won their temporary Exhibition of the Year award. The exhibition was the catalyst for the creation of Aspire Black Suffolk, a community interest company led by four Black women.
The Colchester + Ipswich Museum exhibition was a hit, attracting more than 24,000 visitors to Christchurch Mansion’s Wolsey Art Gallery from June to September 2021, breaking footfall records. Power of Stories also attracted the most diverse audience in its history.
Three spectacular costumes from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther movie were featured in the winning exhibition. The outfits of T’Challa, Shuri and Okoye sat alongside Marvel comics and historic museum objects - carefully chosen to echo objects in scenes in the film. The considered and authentic curation allowed visitors to explore how storytelling has shaped our lives through history and across the globe.
Photo: Three Black Panther costumes stand on a plinth as part of Power of Stories in Ipswich. Left to right: T'Challa, Okoye and Shuri. By Megan Wilson.
Power of Stories, was made possible by a community effort. Six Community Curators from the local Black community and allies collaborated with the Museum’s team to create the exhibition. Plus, a varied events programme with funding from Arts Council England was coordinated by Elma Glasgow; the initiative has since become Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, which continues to work in partnership with key cultural organisations and community members.
Glen Chisholm, Community Curator, remarked: "This was a great collaborative effort and shows how organisations and the community can work together, hopefully this success can be a springboard going forward and ensure that community voices are still heard and empowered."
Photo: Collection of portraits of the Power of Stories' community curators and advisers. Ivy Scott, Lanai Collis-Phillips, Glen Chisholm, Phanuel Mutumburi, Mike Lawless, Daisy Ann Lees. By John Ferguson.
Melanie Hollis, Collections and Learning Curator at Colchester + Ipswich Museums, said: "Winning this award is testament to the hard work of everyone involved. From grass roots groups to nationally acclaimed organisations, Power of Stories shows what communities can achieve when they have something positive to focus on. It was an honour to work with so many passionate people and the museum team is excited about doing more of this work going forwards."
Bernard Donoghue, Chair, Museums and Heritage Awards judges, remarked: "This significant award, which is strongly fought for by the UK’s museums and galleries large and small, recognises great storytelling, enormous creativity, and a wonderfully positive impact on audiences. This was such an eye-catching collaboration between Marvel and Ipswich Museum, supported by a brilliant network of community organisations, that I had to visit it for myself. I loved it. Clever, bold, confident and, frankly, marvellous.”
The awards, sponsored by Chargeurs Museums Studio, celebrate innovative and ground-breaking initiatives from museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions across the UK and overseas. The 2022 event marked the 20th anniversary of the industry-leading Awards.
After its success in Ipswich, Power of Stories is on a tour of Suffolk museums following popular community demand for the costumes to stay in Suffolk to continue providing a positive social impact.
Photo: Collection of photos from Power of Stories by Megan Wilson.
Supported by Suffolk County Council and Aspire Black Suffolk CIC and with funding from Arts Council England, each museum taking part in the tour will re-imagine Power of Stories to suit each venue’s space, culture and local stories.
Elma Glasgow, founder and co-director of Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, added: "We are completely blown away by the accolade, especially as we shared the shortlist with globally known names in culture. Power of Stories is far from over. The tour will continue into 2023 in Suffolk, and with Aspire Black Suffolk being part of its legacy, the co-curation and power of stories themes will influence all that we do, be it Black history education, diversity and inclusion training, teacher training, cultural and arts projects, or youth leadership work. We're committed to providing a platform for untold stories of our unsung Black heroes."
Power of Stories will be displayed at the Food Museum in Stowmarket from 28 May to 9 Oct 2022, before heading to Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh in November.
Adapted from press release originally issued by Ipswich Borough Council press office.
About Aspire Black Suffolk, a community interest company (CIC)
Aspire Black Suffolk CIC is led by 4 black female professionals with a shared passion and vision; to change lives, empower communities and raise awareness of the key issues surrounding race, equality and inclusion in Suffolk and beyond.
We are unique. Our genesis is the pioneering exhibition, Power of Stories, which was a milestone in the UK heritage sector and a catalyst for positive change. Our work extends the legacy of the exhibition, aiming to bring unity and greater tolerance to our society.
We are a dynamic social enterprise offering consultancy and training in diversity and inclusion; diversity and decolonisation in the arts and heritage; Black history education; and policing, race and justice.
Aspire Black Suffolk CIC is a community interest company led by four Black female professionals who are dedicated to tackling the causes of inequality and creating meaningful and lasting solutions. Our mission is to embrace diversity, equality and inclusion and seek to challenge inequalities through positive action, focusing on anti-racism and working with young people. Through training, support, cultural and heritage consultancy and effective communication, the organisation sets out to engage with individuals, employers, training providers and the local community. We are Black-led but take an inclusive approach, weaving in influences from the incredible African diaspora. We invite you to join us on our quest for equality. Our services include:
Diversity and Inclusion training for large and small employers in all sectors.
Training for reaching Black history in schools and colleges.
Anti-racist communications training.
Facilitation of heritage, arts and cultural events.
Delivery of youth empowerment projects.
Consultancy in policing, race and justice.
We work across all protected characteristics in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.