About this website

This website is a resource for curators, heritage managers and students to introduce the linked complexities of the museum presence of the colonial past and the use of photographs in museums.  It results from the collaborative investigation undertaken by PhotoCLEC, an 18 month research project funded by HERA and European Framework Programme 7. It explores the role of photographs of the colonial past, as a key historical presence and key historical source, in contemporary narratives of postcolonial and multicultural identities across three European countries with very different historical and contemporary experiences – The United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Norway.

The resource does not seek to replicate or summarize the vast literature on museums, their techniques, apparatus, ideologies and audiences. Rather it presents an entry point into these two entwined but little discussed aspects of museum practice: photographs and the European colonial past.

The resource addresses these questions through key areas that were raised repeatedly in the course the PhotoCLEC project’s research: in relation to the structuring of collections and archives, in the daily work of curators and in the displays that museums create for their publics. The resource is therefore built in response to the concerns of curators, debates about difficult histories in museums, the role of photographs in the museum space, and especially key questions about the representation of the colonial past in museums as vectors of public history.

This resource has been developed and written collaboratively by the core PhotoCLEC team with additional material by Daan van Dartel , Martijn Eickhoff , Malika Kraamer, Wim Manuhutu, Jaina Mistry, Chris Morton, Edy Seriese and Thomas Michael Welle. The design is by Sophie Clarke.