by Suzanne Francis-Brown

I’ve been on study leave for a few weeks, following up on some outstanding research re UWI artifacts, attending a Museum Ideas conference ( and taking the opportunity to browse a number of other museums.

I thought I’d share some of the journey over the next few weeks, starting with a presentation to the Ramphal Institute.

At the Ramphal Institute:

The is based in London and tackles a range of development issues in the Commonwealth and beyond. The name celebrates the work of the fourth Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Shridath Ramphal.

I was honoured to be asked to present a talk on the work of the museum and happy to share conversation with the audience afterwards.


What did I talk about? I started with the truisms about the importance of the UWI to the region, underscored in its mission and the recent statement by Vice-Chancellor Hilary Beckles about the university’s global relevance. But how to show this as well as to say it? That is a task rooted in the history and the data.

I spoke about my current trip to complete research on some of our artifacts; and about the concomitant need to capture the oral and social history – including current efforts through collaborations with the Department of History’s Social History Project (on UWI & the 1960s) and a Legacy project being discussed with the UWISTAT Alumni Ambassadors.

There was more – Email <> for the full presentation.

One participant urged the creation of an economic plan for the museum, positioning it as a part of the UWI’s value chain. Another put me in touch with Susan Okokon, a historian of Bajan-Nigerian descent who is perhaps best known for her book http://Black Londoners . We talked about the socio-cultural position of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in the UK, but she also emphasized the need to create a presence in the UK, with a view to attracting support globally.

The UWI already benefits from the existence of the British Foundation of the UWI ( ) whose encouraging trustee Elizabeth Mullings-Smith also attended the talk.

Thanks to organizer extraordinaire Rolande DeGazon-Johnson for the photos.

More to come from the Curator on the Road:

  • Museum Ideas through workshop and conference, including my very own Dream Team (for only half-hour, but hey!) of brainstormers for our proposed 2018 Rodney Exhibition
  • Digging up info on our artifacts
  • Benefitting from the experience of archivists and curators
  • Visiting museums….museums…

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