GLASGOW is on the brink of marking its role in the slave trade with a major commemoration of its past.

Council leader Susan Aitken said they were poised to make an announcement in the near future about a "comprehensive piece of work" that would be regarded as a "brave thing to have undertaken."

It is understood that the Gallery of Modern Art in the city has been named as a possible site for a new museum commemorating Scotland’s role in the Slave Trade.

The gallery – known as GoMA – was once the home of William Cunninghame, who made a fortune in the 18th century from the slave trade and tobacco plantations in Virginia. Currently GoMA is home to collections of contemporary art.

Glasgow City Council supports the idea of a museum to slavery – although not a specific location. It is understood that the council is on the cusp of taking action.

The campaign for Scotland to acknowledge its role in the slave trade will heat up this week as a new two-part documentary, Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame, begins on BBC 2 on Tuesday night.

Campaigners want to see Scotland apologise for its role in the slave trade, and for there to be some form of reparations to counties such as Sierra Leone, from where many slaves were taken, and Jamaica where many captives were sent to work. Millions died as a result of the slave trade, and it is seen as one of the worst crimes against humanity in history.

As well as a museum of slavery, campaigners want plaques erected at statues and on streets connected to slavery. Many streets in Glasgow's city centre are named after businessmen involved in the slave trade.

The ramping up of the campaign for some form of "reparative justice" from Scotland came as one of Jamaica’s leading voices, the journalist and broadcaster Earl Moxam, warned that Jamaica and other Caribbean nations would likely seek reparation from Scotland in the event of independence.

Speaking in the new documentary, produced by actor and director David Hayman, Moxam said the Scottish Government “ought to be aware ... that if it were to go the route of independence then I would expect that Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean would make a direct appeal for reparations formally to Scotland, to the independent Scottish government”.

Graham Campbell, an SNP councillor in Glasgow who is descended from slaves in Jamaica, is one of the leading voices campaigning for Scotland to make amends for its past role, and for the establishment of a museum of slavery. He said the museum should be at GoMA given the building’s past links to the trade. "That is the obvious place," he said, adding: "The city must make a gesture."

Campbell also raised the question of whether streets in Glasgow named after merchants involved in the slave trade should be renamed.

Hayman said: "The first thing we have to do is apologise. The Scottish Government can say as a nation that we are deeply sorry for the horror we created 200 years ago – there is nothing wrong in saying sorry."

Hayman also suggested a statue or memorial to the victims of slavery should also erected in Glasgow. He also supports the idea of twinning towns and cities in Scotland with places in Africa and the Caribbean where Scots were involved in slavery.

Zandra Yeaman of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), which is also campaigning for a museum of slavery, said there was a “growing recognition of the need to represent the realities of empire, colonialism, slavery and migration within mainstream heritage and history”.

She added that “cities like Liverpool, London and Bristol have found a way to address this through dedicated spaces – museums, archives and learning centres. We think it’s time Scotland had a space to fulfil this need”.

The campaign for Scotland to make amends for the past has gained added impetus following the decision by Glasgow University to publish a report into its own historic links to the slave trade. The university won praise for admitting it had “received significant financial support from people whose wealth at least in part derived from slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries”.

Equalities minister Christina McKelvie said the Scottish Government wants to “consider how we can reflect on Scotland’s role in the slave trade”.