IT was a sector leader when allowed for the repatriation of sacred items to their country or people of origin almost 25 years ago when the Ghost Dance shirt was returned to the Lakota Sioux from Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery.


In a bid to right the wrongs of previous generations, that theme has continued and earlier this year Glasgow City Council’s leader Councillor Susan Aitken apologised unreservedly for the city’s role in slavery.
It followed a report which examined the city’s connection and subsequent wealth from the transatlantic slave trade.

Read more: Kelvingrove's Salvador Dali masterpiece to leave city
Led by University of Glasgow historian Dr Stephen Mullen, the report linked 62 street names and eight statues to the slave trade.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be to display new labels telling the slave trade or empire links to objects. Picture Robert Perry.Painting by John Lavery. Queen Victoria at the Glasgow Exhibition,1888. The exhibition funded some of the museum building. Picture: Robert Perry.
And in April the council agreed to repatriate artefacts following requests from Nigeria, India and Native Americans.
Now the city museum's service is going one step further and will explain in greater detail the connection to slavery or the empire of more than a dozen items on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be to display new labels telling the slave trade or empire links to objects. Picture Robert Perry.A painting by Sir Henry Raeburn of Mr and Mrs Robert N. Campbell of Kailzie, that hangs in the Scottish Identity in Art gallery will have a further label added that explains that the subjects were owners of a plantation in Grenada with 232 enslaved Africans. Picture Robert Perry.
Glasgow Life, the charitable trust which runs culture and leisure in the city, is to address legacies of slavery and empire across Glasgow’s civic museums in the next few weeks.
New interpretation labels are about to be added to displays at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, aiming to reveal to visitors more about the history of some objects on display and highlighting untold stories behind the collections.

Read more: New Tolsta is revealed as Scotland's Home of the Year
It marks the initial phases of the process to transform how Kelvingrove and other Glasgow Life Museums address transatlantic slavery, British colonialism and their legacies.
Visitors will be offered the opportunity to engage with the added interpretation and give their views on how this process should be taken forward and how the collection can be used to explain the history of empire and slavery.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be to display new labels telling the slave trade or empire links to objects. Picture Robert Perry.Glasgow’s first museum at Kelvingrove Park, the forerunner of Kelvingrove Art Galllery and Museum, was in the home of former Lord Provost Patrick Colquhoun, a tobacco merchant who’s fortune was amassed trading in goods produced by enslaved African people.
Duncan Dornan, Head of Glasgow Life Museums said: “Museums are often the places that tell us most about who we are and who we want to be so we have been determined to recognise Glasgow’s role in transatlantic slavery and colonialism and how the city benefitted. As part of a long-term project that will change how we display and interpret the city’s collection, these labels, which are being added at Kelvingrove, mark an important first step in a continuing process which is beginning across Scotland. Visitors should learn more about Glasgow and our history as a result and understand more about the real cost of some of the city’s collection.”

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be to display new labels telling the slave trade or empire links to objects. Picture Robert Perry.Other parts of the collection were given to the city by people whose wealth came from plantations in the Caribbean and the work of slave labour. Picture Robert Perry.
Mr Dornan said they are also looking for feedback from visitors to help them with the next phase of the project.
Identifying some of the objects has been part of legacies of slavery and empire curator Miles Greenwood's role. It was a new role for the museum service after funding was secured from Museum and Galleries Scotland.
Mr Dornan added: "There is a great deal of research that goes into every piece as we have to be very confident about the background to the object and that information is robust. It is large piece of work which is why we created a distinct post. While we were making progress such is the scale of the task that it was very slow, so it was important to have someone on this full-time.
Curator Mr Greenwood said the initial interventions are intended to spark conversations with visitors. A lot of change is needed across Glasgow Life Museums as a whole, and I hope this will be a small part of that process and that we go through it with our visitors. It’s clear more work needs to be done across Glasgow to give atrocities and legacies of racialised chattel slavery and colonialism the civic recognition that they require and deserve. We are also looking at new displays and changes in Kelvingrove, and other civic museums across Glasgow to reflect this.”

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be to display new labels telling the slave trade or empire links to objects. Picture Robert Perry.Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will reveal untold stories of slave trade links
One of the new labels will also highlight that Glasgow’s first museum at Kelvingrove Park, the forerunner of Kelvingrove Art Galllery and Museum, was in the home of former Lord Provost Patrick Colquhoun, a tobacco merchant who’s fortune was amassed trading in goods produced by enslaved African people.
Other parts of the collection collection were given to the city by people whose wealth came from plantations in the Caribbean and the work of slave labour.
A painting by Sir Henry Raeburn of Mr and Mrs Robert N. Campbell of Kailzie, that hangs in the Scottish Identity in Art gallery will have a further label added that explains that the subjects were owners of a plantation in Grenada with 232 enslaved Africans.
Further information on Kelvingrove’s own links to the International Exhibition of 1888, which funded some of the museum building, will also be installed.
Other new labels will question the reality of life on a sugar plantation in Jamaica depicted in an idyllic etching by Thomas Vivares in the Glasgow Stories gallery. The death rate on the sugar plantations was high for enslaved people because of overwork, poor nutrition and work conditions, brutality and disease.
Councillor Graham Campbell, chairman of GCC’s Slavery Legacy Working Group, said: “I’m delighted to see the work of reinterpretation getting under way through this important step of re-contextualising museum artefacts as part of a necessary truth-telling about Glasgow’s deep involvement in slavery, colonialism and the British empire for which Kelvingrove was originally built to celebrate. The organised forgetting about slavery is over and the organised remembering of Glasgow’s involvement is in full swing.“
Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said there is a responsibility for museums and galleries across Scotland to address the legacies of empire, colonialism, and historic slavery within their collections and spaces. A Steering Group for the Empire, Slavery, and Scotland’s Museums national consultation has been exploring. 
Ms Cascot said: "Museums Galleries Scotland is highly supportive of Glasgow Life Museums’ work to address these legacies through further interpretation, civic recognition, and conversations with their visitors. The new interpretation labels at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum are an important step in their plans.”