The Past is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire

(Saturday) (Monday)

The Past is Now explores Birmingham’s relationship to the British Empire. It has been co-curated with six artists, researchers and activists working within Birmingham and exclusively features objects from Birmingham’s collection.

At its height in 1922, the British Empire covered a quarter of the world and ruled over 458 million people. However, the creation and retention of the Empire resulted in many people losing their lives or becoming severely traumatised. Whilst the Empire has officially ended, its legacy still exists today in institutional structures and affects both individual and national senses of identity.

This exhibition challenges the typical colonial narrative used to present the history of the British Empire. By focusing on a few key events and themes, the exhibition examines the museum’s own bias in telling difficult narratives and explores other perspectives, which have been historically misrepresented. 

This exhibition will be shown in our new gallery Story Lab. Story Lab is a space that will test different storylines and ways of creating museum displays. We encourage visitors to interact, feedback and engage in conversations with us and each other. Your responses to this exhibition will affect how the museum displays these topics in the future. #ThePastIsNow 



Accompanying Events

There will be a celebration event in the gallery with key speakers and performances in early December, check back on the website later for more details.

Selection of further exhibitions in: United kingdom

23.03.2018 - 22.07.2018
Ashmolean Museum
Beaumont Street
Oxford

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01.08.2016 - 30.12.2018
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington Street
Cambridge

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09.03.2018 - 02.09.2018
National Museum & Gallery Cardiff
Cathays Park
Cardiff

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07.11.2018 - 24.03.2019
Design Museum
28 Shad Thames
London

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18.04.2018 - 19.11.2019
Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square
Birmingham

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21.07.2018 - 03.03.2019
National Museum & Gallery Cardiff
Cathays Park
Cardiff

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01.09.2017 - 28.01.2019
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London

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26.05.2018 - 09.09.2018
Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square
Birmingham

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09.05.2018 - 12.08.2018
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London

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20.06.2018 - 06.01.2019
The Wallace Collection
Manchester Square
London

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28.03.2017 - 12.08.2018
11.06.2017 - 07.10.2018
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London

Read more >>
12.09.2018 - 06.01.2019
Design Museum
28 Shad Thames
London

Read more >>
10.05.2017 - 07.10.2018
Design Museum
28 Shad Thames
London

Read more >>
02.11.2016 - 20.11.2020
UCL Art Museum
Gower Street
London

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20.10.2017 - 14.01.2019
Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square
Birmingham

Read more >>
28.02.2018 - 19.05.2019
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London

Read more >>










The Past is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery Main address: Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery Chamberlain Square B3 3DH Birmingham, United kingdom Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery Chamberlain Square B3 3DH Birmingham, United kingdom The Past is Now explores Birmingham’s relationship to the British Empire. It has been co-curated with six artists, researchers and activists working within Birmingham and exclusively features objects from Birmingham’s collection.

At its height in 1922, the British Empire covered a quarter of the world and ruled over 458 million people. However, the creation and retention of the Empire resulted in many people losing their lives or becoming severely traumatised. Whilst the Empire has officially ended, its legacy still exists today in institutional structures and affects both individual and national senses of identity.

This exhibition challenges the typical colonial narrative used to present the history of the British Empire. By focusing on a few key events and themes, the exhibition examines the museum’s own bias in telling difficult narratives and explores other perspectives, which have been historically misrepresented. 

This exhibition will be shown in our new gallery Story Lab. Story Lab is a space that will test different storylines and ways of creating museum displays. We encourage visitors to interact, feedback and engage in conversations with us and each other. Your responses to this exhibition will affect how the museum displays these topics in the future. #ThePastIsNow 



Accompanying Events

There will be a celebration event in the gallery with key speakers and performances in early December, check back on the website later for more details.
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