‘Brown Babies’, created in collaboration with Professor Lucy Bland of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), was shortlisted alongside fantastic projects by the Jewish Museum London and the V&A Dundee. The winner was announced by Dame Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and one of the award judges, at the Museum Association's annual conference held on Monday 8th November in Liverpool.
The online exhibition is sponsored by ARU and builds on the research Professor Bland carried out for her book Britain’s ‘Brown Babies’, which earlier this year won the Social History Society’s Book of the Year prize.
For her book, Professor Bland interviewed over 50 people who were born in Britain to Black GI fathers and white mothers between 1942-45. The online exhibition – which includes contributions from people who have come forward since the book was originally published – expands on these stories through photographs, newspaper reports, and audio, to bring this important chapter of Britain’s 20th century history to an even wider audience.
Professor Bland said: “Winning two prizes for my research is something I never dreamed of and still cannot quite believe. I am immensely grateful to The Mixed Museum for being so enthusiastic about my research and enabling its digitisation, and to ARU for supporting this online project. And most importantly a huge thank you to all the participants without whom there would be no book or exhibition.”
Dr Chamion Caballero, Director of The Mixed Museum, said: “This is such an amazing outcome. It was an honour for us even to be shortlisted alongside such amazing organisations but to win is just incredible. As a small and still very much evolving digital museum, to have the ‘Brown Babies’ exhibition acknowledged by the Museums Association through this award is such tremendous encouragement that the work we are doing is being seen and valued.
“As part of our work to share and preserve the histories of racial mixing in Britain, we believe in the importance of centring the voices of ordinary people, particularly those whose accounts have tended to be overlooked. And so we were honoured to be able to work with Lucy Bland and ARU to help share the stories Lucy collected as part of her ‘Brown Babies’ research.
“It is thanks to the bravery and generosity of those who shared their experiences growing up mixed race during wartime that our exhibition exists, and this wonderful accolade belongs first and foremost to all of them. We hope it will go some way to help everyone who contributed to the research and the exhibition to feel that, after so many decades being marginalised, their history is increasingly seen as significant, valuable and worthy of attention.”
The Museums Change Lives Awards celebrate the achievements of museums that are making a difference to the lives of their audiences and communities across the UK.
The digital exhibition can be viewed at www.mixedmuseum.org.uk/brown-babies