On Monday 29th June 2009 a new online exhibition on the BPMA website was launched which was created as part of the Contemporary Collecting Partnership Project, funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and managed by the Museum of London. This project began in May 2008 and funded three museums, including the BPMA to “collect material reflecting the experience of newly and recently arrived culturally diverse people belonging to community groups, associations or similar organisations, and to develop sustainable partnerships with them.”
For this project, the BPMA worked with Royal Mail staff that had migrated to London, in particular with members of the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim Associations in Mount Pleasant Mail Centre. The reason for this choice was the wide diversity that exists within Mount Pleasant Mail Centre, only 34% of workers are White British and many different cultural and religious groups are active within the 24-hour workplace. The other two museums involved were Brent Museum who worked with Polish and Brazilian local communities, and Cuming Museum who worked with Gypsy Roma Travellers in the area.
BPMA staff attended four religious festivals organised by these associations in Mount Pleasant (Diwali, Guru Nanak’s Birthday, Vaisakhi and Eid) to collect oral recordings, photographs and objects. The next stage of the project was to use this material to create an online exhibition with help from participants from these groups, giving information on the associations, the festivals they celebrate and the stories of the people within these associations. A facilitator experienced in working with community groups was appointed on a freelance basis to lead sessions with members of the associations to create this web exhibition.
Eight sessions were held in Mount Pleasant Learning Centre with fourteen volunteers from the associations, and much of the text and images in the exhibition was created and uploaded by these people. Many of the participants gained new computer skills from being involved in these sessions. Audio clips from interviews with members of the associations have also been added to the web exhibition and there is also the chance for other staff to add their own stories of migrating to London and working for Royal Mail.
This project has been a great opportunity for the BPMA to diversify its collections by collecting material reflecting groups not previously represented. The collection now better represents the diversity of Mount Pleasant and the different religious groups that exist within it. It has also given us the opportunity to build up stronger relationships with staff in Mount Pleasant that are sustainable into the future and to form new partnerships with other museums.
The exhibition can be viewed on our website so please have a look at all the hard work done by members of these associations or add your own stories of migrating to London or working for Royal Mail.