SCOTLAND should create a dedicated space to address its historic role in slavery and colonialism, an expert group has suggested.

The Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums Steering Group has made six recommendations to the Scottish Government on how existing and future museum collections can better recognise the country’s links with slavery as part of a national commitment to anti-racism.

The recommendations – developed through a national consultation of workshops, focus groups and a major public survey – said Scotland should have a specific space dedicated to its colonial past and an organisation should be set up to lead this work.

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They also said museums should ensure anti-racism is embedded in their workplaces and public spaces, and should involve Scots in shaping their work through co-production, to promote cultural democracy and participation for all.

The final three recommendations state that: “museums should commit to research, interpret, and share the histories of Scotland’s link to empire, colonialism and historic slavery”, “support efforts to promote and embed race equality and anti-racism in the curricula in a meaningful, effective, and sustainable way”, and the “Scottish Government should demonstrate their support for restitution and repatriation of looted or unethically acquired items in Scottish collections”.

Human rights activist and renowned scientist Sir Geoff Palmer, chair of the steering group, said: “Museums hold a special place in my heart, as they offered a haven for me when I first came to the United Kingdom from Jamaica more than 60 years ago. I believe museums can and should be a haven for all.

“The recommendations by the Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums Steering Group mark a milestone in Scotland’s tradition as a forward-looking nation. Taking a brave stance, acknowledging the part this country has played in shaping the world of today and being ready to see that glorious and inglorious histories co-exist, support us to move forward in a progressive way.

“The work that lies ahead may sometimes feel challenging and uncomfortable but will be worth it to ensure museums and galleries are for all of Scotland’s people.”

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Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums is a national project, sponsored by the Scottish Government. After decades of campaigning by equalities groups this project was initiated by a motion in Scottish Parliament in June 2020.

People from all over Scotland were participants in and drivers of the British Empire and the profits of these ventures helped to build the cities, towns, villages, and infrastructure.

These colonial ventures have had profound human consequences, developing and advancing racist and prejudiced views that persist today.

Culture Minister Neil Gray said: “I welcome the steering group’s report and thank the group for the extensive range of research they carried out.

“The Scottish Government sponsored this independent group as part of our Programme for Government commitment to look at how our existing museums, and those set up in the future, can present a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history. We will carefully con- sider these important recommendations and discuss them with the steering group before responding to them.”