Collaboration with the Equiano Society to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery

The Equiano Project

Bringing together museum collections and community projects through one man’s story

HKD was delighted to be appointed by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) to work with the Equiano Society on a major exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery.

The Heritage Lottery Funded project set out to be “the first ever exhibition of this size centred on a black historical figure, and this fact combined with the momentous story of slavery and abolition – and the contemporary resonances of this history today -make The Equiano Project the most significant and ambitious project connected to the 2007 Bicentennial.”

The exhibition drew on loans of works from the Tate Britain, V&A, National Maritime Museum, British Library, Museum of London, National Portrait Gallery, BMAG and many others.

We created a powerful contemporary exhibition by placing community projects at the centre of the experience using the artifacts to build a picture of this great man. In addition, we delivered two touring exhibitions and an educational pack.

The exhibition was visited by over 10,000 people per month, exceeding the expected visitor numbers.

Featured exhibit:

The Middle Passage

The Middle Passage was a walk through, environmental experience inviting visitors to pause and think deeply about the horror of the inhumane conditions onboard the slave ships.

The exhibition circulation led to a wooden tunnel and displayed ‘The Brookes’, an image which shows a slave ship loaded with 454 people crammed into the hold.

The soundscape was a reading from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, a first-person narrative of the experience of being onboard. In the tunnel, niches built into the walls that were based on the dimensions shown in The Brookes invited visitors to squeeze in and use their imaginations to begin to imagine the horror experienced in the middle passage.

Skip to content