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The Powell-Cotton Museum, which is in Kent, was founded in 1896 by Percy Powell-Cotton to house his growing collection of taxidermy specimens and ethnographic objects. The Museum’s spectacular natural history dioramas are the largest in Europe, but existing interpretation is sparse and tends only to reflect the perspective of Percy Powell-Cotton and his children. The Museum is intent on changing this and wants to tell the stories of the people who worked with Powell-Cotton on his hunting expeditions in Africa and Asia, and of the local people who helped create the dioramas. One of the Museum’s principal goals is to reveal how past injustices continue to impact people’s lives today.

I am working for the creative consultancy Hybrid to help the Museum with Colonial Critters, a project which reimagines the interpretation of their natural history displays. My responsibility is to reach underrepresented audiences and to engage these audiences in the work of shaping the path the Museum takes going forward. The methodology is to co-create a series of events and a pop-up museum with different community organisations. The relationships brought about through co-creation will then be built on to establish long-term partnerships with the organisations.

Events so far include a webinar created in tandem with Tandy Cherop, a student from the University of Kent East African Society, and Kenyan colleagues at the Internal Inventories Programme, an exhibition targeting 16-24-year-olds produced by students at Dover Technical College, and a programme co-designed with Sure Start for low-income families.

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