Islamic & South Asian Collections in Manchester

Since April Jenny Norton-Wright, Early Career Curator at Manchester Museum, has been exploring the Islamic and South Asian collections across Manchester Museum, the Whitworth, and Manchester City Galleries (http://bit.ly/1sYozk4). Jenny’s research is part of a wider project to better document these collections, make them more accessible, and up skill curators to work more closely with them. The long term goal is to use this research and development to produce an exhibition in the not too distant future. The project is being generously funded by the John Ellerman Foundation (http://bit.ly/1u7qJtV).

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Jenny Norton-Wright with Professor Tim Insoll, University of Manchester, and Dr Salman Almahari, Bahrain National Museum, discussing Manchester Museum’s Islamic collection [left]. Dr Salman was able to help identify a set of currency from Bahrain donated to Manchester Museum in 1926 [right].

The process of developing curatorial skills will include visits to sites of best practice in the UK and abroad, such as Birmingham Museum (http://bit.ly/14pvA0a) and Art Gallery or Museum für Islamische Kunst (http://bit.ly/1Wuul8Q). It will also include a series of workshops and an ambitious international conference. The first workshop, which we are currently planning, will take place this October and focus on key elements of Islamic and South Asian history and culture. The international conference will take place in late February 2017, it will feature speakers working on some of the most innovative Islamic and South Asian museum and gallery projects across the UK, Europe and further afield. Once plans are affirmed we’ll share them on the Manchester Museum website and other social media platforms.

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Museodramatic

If you’re looking for something to do this Friday evening do consider our After Hours: Warriors of the Plains event which starts at 6:30pm. For more information visit http://bit.ly/18J1Tpx

During the event the Mustard Tree Drama Group will perform their play Home Is Where The Heart Is? and playwright and poet Anjum Malik will perform her monologue The Lost Salford Sioux. Both works have been inspired by the Warriors of the Plains exhibition and historic connections between Native North Americans and Greater Manchester. Any such dramatisations can be accused of lacking historicity, as Jane McGrath writes in relation to the historical dramas ‘Professional film reviewers are tame compared to the wrath of nit-picking historian’ http://bit.ly/OeHx0h

A performance of This Accursed Thing at Manchester Museum. The piece dramatised Manchester's role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Taken in 2007.

A performance of This Accursed Thing at Manchester Museum. The piece dramatised Manchester’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Taken in 2007.

As a curator I could easily be accused of nit-picking but working with performers and writers provides an invaluable opportunity to introduce both emotion and experience. Tonight’s performers conducted extensive research and became thoroughly enthralled by Native North American history and culture. Combining this with their own experiences of change and continuity has produced truly captivating and sensitive pieces.

At Manchester Museum we’re always looking for innovative ways to further understanding between cultures. Drama, poetry and performance are invaluable tools in this endeavour.