The prime minister of Barbados has announced the Caribbean nation will be building a transatlantic slavery museum that will house the largest collection of records on British slavery outside the United Kingdom, according to Independent.
The announcement by prime minister Mia Mottley comes days after the island nation officially became a republic and cut its colonial-era ties with the British monarchy after almost 400 years.
“This week Barbados set out on a new part of the journey. The most important gift we can give of our people and our children at this time is that sense of confidence and understanding of who we are,” Mottley said.
The museum’s facilities will include a research institute that will be tasked with sharing the story of slavery as well as the impact it had on a global scale. The building will be designed by renowned British architect Sir David Adjaye.
Speaking about the building’s design, Mottley said it will be “inherently African”, The Art Newspaper reported. “The cycle of birth to death, born from the Earth and returning, will become manifest and mediated through architecture,” she added.
The facility will be built on the Newton Slave Burial Ground. The historic site is the largest and earliest slave burial ground to have been discovered in the Caribbean nation. A memorial in honor of the buried victims will also be designed by Sir David.
“This project is really at the heart of why I was inspired to become an architect. That stories, structures and monuments that really define our worlds, which have been devoid of stories of people of the diaspora of Africa, need in the 21st century to emerge,” Sir David said.
Some of the items the museum will display include original manuscripts, ledgers, photos as well as other materials, Independent reported. The museum will also have a large and open climate-controlled space for storage. There will also be facilities for events as well as expected research partnerships.
“As we engage with these records and unearth the many stories in the current format and future state, it is believed that on the heels of republicanism a new national consciousness will emerge among our people which can only be done to the benefit of all,” Ingrid Thompson, chief archivist at the Barbados Archives Department, said.
Mottley also said that the facility should be completed by 2025, and funds for its construction will be provided by institutions other than the Barbados government.
“This allows us a space to pay homage to our ancestors, to acknowledge their sacrifice as part of an invidious system of forced migration that changed the world and their enduring legacy for future generations is of critical importance to the continued construction of national identity in this age of republic,” Dr. Kevin Farmer, deputy director of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, also said.
The museum is expected to contribute to the country’s economic development and also create jobs.