Museums Research

Sapi-Portuguese bust. Image courtesy of the British Museum (BM:Af.9037).
Sapi-Portuguese bust. Image courtesy of the British Museum (BM:Af.9037).

Launched in February 2012, wishes to reanimate the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone. It offers a database featuring objects from SL from multiple public collections: the Sierra Leone National Museum, the British Museum, the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, the Cootje van Oven Collection, the Glasgow Museums, the World Museum of Liverpool and the British Library.

The digital resource is the main output of a research project entitled ‘Reanimating Cultural Heritage: Digital Repatriation, Knowledge Networks and Civil Society Strengthening in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone’. The project was funded between 2009 and 2012 by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of its Beyond Text programme and was directed by Dr Paul Basu of University College London. The ‘Reanimating Cultural Heritage’ project was concerned with innovating digital curatorship in relation to Sierra Leonean collections dispersed in the global museumscape. Building on research in anthropology, museum studies, informatics and beyond, the project considered how objects that have become isolated from the oral and performative contexts that originally animated them can be reanimated in digital space alongside associated images, video clips, sounds, texts and other media, and thereby be given new life.

I don’t think objects of the Sierra Leone National Museum have been available online before, so there’s a lot to discover. The Sherbro figure below, collected before 1906, for example, is related to the one Sotheby’s sold earlier this month (info).

Sherbro figure. Pre 1906. Image courtesy of the British Museum (BM:Af.1906.525.3)
Sherbro figure. Image courtesy of the British Museum (BM:Af.1906.525.3)