Thursday, April 23, 2020

Museum Without a Home: STAR 2020

Award-winning exhibition Museum Without a Home completed another UK tour – this time throughout Scotland and the North-East of England – from January to February 2020. In collaboration with Oxfam and Amnesty International, STAR groups from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Manchester, and Sheffield hosted the exhibition at their universities.

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[Image description: this photo shows the exhibition Museum Without a Home that took place at the University of Birmingham. With a glass room as the background, an information placard about the exhibition was displayed on a stand and some exhibits were shown on two plinths.]

Displaying items representing solidarity and friendships that have been formed with those seeking sanctuary, the exhibition was said to have inspired many of its audience. Let’s have a look at some of the reflections our hosts have upon their experience with Museum Without a Home!

Lucy, from Manchester STAR

“I would not forget when a woman approached me after she saw the exhibition, to ask me more about the situations of refugees. The exhibition definitely provoked her sympathy, when she expressed her disappointment at the lack of humanitarian responses to help refugees.”

When Lucy was asked about the reactions she received from the exhibition, she said that this particular incident left her a strong impression. She found that Museum Without a Home provides a great opportunity for people to start important conversations on difficult topics like the asylum seeking process. It turns big statistics into a representation of real people with real stories.

Even though the event was limited by the university strike, it never failed to attract the attention of the people passing by. People always appeared curious: even though they had little knowledge on the matter, they came out of the exhibition feeling informed and inspired. The exhibition also clearly encouraged people to agree with the cause, as 76 people signed the Action Cards. Lucy says she really enjoyed hosting the exhibition, because it was a great experience to promote the cause and to have constructive conversations.

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[Image description: in the photo, a woman is standing with a smile in front of four plinths that exhibits items from Museum Without a Home, including two toy cars, the game Connect Four and a bottle of lotion. Two placards written ‘Home Is…” are placed on the ground leaning against the plinths.]

Ella, from Edinburgh STAR

“This is an exhibition that gives agency and individuality to an object. It draws out our social relationship with the asylum seekers.”

With passion, Ella asserted that Museum Without a Home is an important exhibition that highlights themes of concern in the discussion regarding asylum seekers. In Edinburgh, they hosted an opening night and invited guest speakers including a representative from the Scottish Refugee Council, a rescue swimmer who worked in Greece and a long-term on-the-ground volunteer in Calais, France. She notes that she witnessed a stark contrast of reactions before and after the talks. People were even more engaged in the exhibition after hearing personal experiences. They read into the details written on the placards and actively started conversations with the people around them.

Fascinated by what she saw, she described the exhibition as a powerful event; a good cause that draws people in from different sectors and provokes discussion. The Student, an independent newspaper produced by students from University of Edinburgh, wrote an article on the exhibition. The article highlights that Museum Without a Home successfully informs and creates a sense of familiarity with refugees. It praises the exhibition for tackling the paradox of exhibitions concerning refugees suffering from “The White Gaze”. Although the Members of Parliament were unable to attend the event, MP Deidre Brock replied Ella that she published an article in support of the exhibition and #FamiliesTogether campaign.

Ella expressed her gratitude towards the overwhelming interest and support the exhibition received. She urges others to host their own exhibition, as she witnessed the great impact it had.

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[Image description: this photo is a close up on one of the exhibits of Museum Without a Home. A children’s book, ‘Be A Friend” by Salina Yoon, is placed on the top of a plinth. A placard explaining the context of displaying “children’s books” is fixed on the plinth.]

Posted by STAR team on 23/04/2020 at 10:51 PM