Webinar films and online content

This webinar event and related online content explored the possibilities of decolonial action in the interpretation of museum objects.

What do we mean when we talk about decolonisation? Why is it necessary? What specific challenge does portraiture as a genre present? What strategies can museums and galleries put in place to support the process of decolonisation? What is the difference between being de-colonial and anti-colonial?

Dealing with the impact of Britain’s colonial history within the cultural sector is a process – an on-going series of actions and activities that aim to change the way we interpret our complex and contentious history through portraiture.

By sharing ideas, strategies and activism, delegates were invited to take part in a day of conversation aimed at inspiring and empowering them to action within their institutions.

New Realities

2020 has seen the twin challenges of covid-19 and the ongoing effects of the global movement for Black lives, intensifying the conversation around Britain’s history of colonialism, and its aftereffects. How might this reality revolutionise museum interpretation?

This reimagined programme aimed to amplify some of the leading critical and creative voices working today to complicate the ways in which biography, portraiture and interpretation – in its broadest sense – tells the story of who we are.

From De-colonial to Anti-colonial featured contributors from the worlds of academia, activism, acting, visual and performance art.


Prof Kehinde Andrews (Birmingham City University) delivered the keynote address, and participated in a live Q&A at the start of the webinar.

Online contributions from actor Paterson Joseph (@ignatius_sancho) and baritone Peter Brathwaite (#GettyMuseumChallenge #BlackPortraiture) explored the roles of artists in illuminating Black histories, alongside rethinking monuments with visual activist Prof Nicholas Mirzoeff (NYU).

Our core webinar, presenting ideas on decolonising arts histories and working towards an anti-colonial praxis, featured:

  • Anjalie Dalal-Clayton, Decolonising Art Institute, University of Arts London
  • Marenka Thompson-Odlum, Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Subhadra Das, UCL Culture
  • Sarah Thomas, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Michael Ohajuru, Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies
  • Alice Procter, Uncomfortable Art Tours

This conference is part of a series of events by the Understanding British Portraits network, programmed by artist and academic Sonya Dyer.