Slavery abolition show to open

The story of events leading to the passing of the Act which abolished Britain’s slave trade in 1807 will be told at an exhibition, The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People, set to open tomorrow at Westminster Hall, London SW1.

With design by exhibition specialist Metaphor and graphics by Public Works Office, the show focuses on the role played by Parliament and the British people.

It also highlights the role that printed material played in the campaign to end slavery, with a number of original documents and merchandise on display.

Westminster Hall, the setting for the show, is in the Houses of Parliament, which itself has strong links with the original campaign. Metaphor’s design aims to take visitors to the heart of the historic debate in the place where William Wilberforce made his first major speech in 1789 on the abolition of slavery.

The consultancy has used a combination of original artefacts, graphics and imagery, as well as designing a ‘mini’ Parliament, where excerpts of the original abolition debates can be heard. It ends with campaigning group Anti-Slavery International telling the continuing story of slavery and human trafficking today.

Public Works Office used the modern Mrs Eaves font, which is based on an 18th century font, for the exhibition text.

According to Stephen Greenberg, creative director at Metaphor, ‘Our brief was to convey the stories of the ordinary people who campaigned against slavery and influenced Parliament, as well as the people who led the campaign. Our design challenge was to create a temporary exhibition that makes an impression in such a vast and historic space of national significance but can also be dismantled at speed if necessary.’

The exhibition runs from 23 May to 23 September.

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