Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum is to open its International Slavery Museum this week, occupying three adjoining galleries, created by Redman Design.
As part of the design, Redman was tasked with presenting a complex, richly detailed and brutal human story in ways that are understandable and accessible for a wide audience. Redman won the work following a pitch against a number of undisclosed consultancies.
‘We tried to bring objects and other media to tell the story of slavery,’ says Redman Design partner John Redman. ‘One of the challenges was that the museum will eventually have two entrances, so the exhibition needed to make sense whichever way visitors enter.’
The West Gallery is bright, with natural light and art and design, images, smells, sounds and dance which focuses on West African cultures. In contrast, there is a stark grey concrete wall designed to provoke thoughts about the nature of freedom and enslavement.
The Middle Gallery shows the misery of enslavement for Africans compared with the fruits of slavery – the goods enjoyed by wealthy 18th-century Europeans. This space uses interactive features to evoke the horror of life on board a slave ship.
Finally, the East Gallery provides an exploration of the negative and positive aspects of the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade, with a striking timeline.