Bristol, will be musealized the statue torn down in 2020 by Black Lives Matter

In Bristol, there is a move toward musealizing the statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader and merchant, which was torn down in 2020 during a protest by the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Bristol, U.K., the monument dedicated to Edward Colston that was torn down during a Black Lives Matter movement demonstration in June 2020 willalmost certainly bemusealized. The action came in the wake of protests around the world that followed the killing in Minnesota, U.S., of 48-year-old citizen George Floyd, who was killed during a police stop. In Bristol, across the ocean, crowds gathered under the monument to Edward Colston (1636 - 1721), a merchant and trader of African slaves, pounced on the statue, then threw it into the waters of Bristol Harbor.

However, to decide on the ultimate fate of the monument, an 1895 work designed by sculptor John Cassidy (1860 - 1939), a specially formed committee will decide on the proposals received so far. Most likely to house the statue will be the M Shed Museum, the main institution dedicated to Bristol’s history. The proposals came following a report published by the We Are Bristol History Commission, which recommended that the statue be kept in a museum. This recommendation came after 80 percent of Bristol residents who responded to the commission’s survey on the subject agreed with this approach. If the musealization proposal is approved, the statue will be part of an upcoming exhibition at the M Shed focused on the theme of “protest,” opening in March 2024.

Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, said, “The proposals we developed are a direct response to the recommendations of the History Commission report that worked on the opinions of many thousands of Bristol citizens. We also shared our thoughts with Historic England on this issue and took their views into account before submitting this application. I remain supportive of the view that the best place for the statue is in a museum where its context and what it represents to many communities can be properly shared with a diverse audience.”

The We Are Bristol History Commission report, released in February 2022, established a set of recommendations associated with the statue after its toppling in June 2020. The findings of this report were based on the results of a survey shared with people throughout the city, online, in print and in person.

Professor Tim Cole, who chaired the We Are Bristol History Commission and was one of the academics who produced the report, said, “One of our areas of work through the commission was to facilitate a citywide conversation about what should happen with the Edward Colston statue. That project saw us gather many different opinions and viewpoints that really demonstrated the complexity of the sentiments associated with the statue and the many aspects of context associated with it. What was clear, however, despite the many different opinions shared, was the overwhelming feeling that people saw the museum as the best place for the statue, and I am pleased to see the board acting on that recommendation.”

Pictured is the moment Colston’s statue is thrown into the waters of Bristol Harbor.

Bristol, will be musealized the statue torn down in 2020 by Black Lives Matter
Bristol, will be musealized the statue torn down in 2020 by Black Lives Matter

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