‘Brown Babies’ exhibition makes awards shortlist


25-10-2021
Britain’s ‘Brown Babies' cover

An online exhibition based on the powerful personal histories unearthed by Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History at Anglia Ruskin University, is in the running for a prestigious national Museums Association award.

The “Brown Babies” exhibition – hosted and organised by The Mixed Museum, which focuses on the history of mixed race people in the UK – has been shortlisted alongside the Jewish Museum London and the V&A Dundee for the best Digital Engagement Award at the Museums Association’s annual Museums Change Lives Awards.

The online exhibition is sponsored by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and builds on the research Professor Bland carried out for her book Britain’s ‘Brown Babies’, which earlier this year won the Social History Society’s Book of the Year prize.

Britain’s ‘Brown Babies’ tells the personal stories of the children born following relationships between white British women and black American GIs based in Britain during the Second World War.  Dubbed the “brown babies” by the African American media, it is estimated that almost half of these 2,000 children were placed in children’s homes in the UK.

For her book, Professor Bland interviewed over 50 people who were born in Britain to Black GI fathers and white mothers between 1942-45.  The online exhibition – which includes contributions from people who have come forward since the book was originally published – expands on these stories through photographs, newspaper reports, and audio, to bring this important chapter of Britain’s 20th century history to an even wider audience.

Dr Chamion Caballero, Director of The Mixed Museum, said: “To have the ‘Brown Babies’ exhibition shortlisted in this category is such tremendous encouragement that the history behind it is being seen and valued. We are absolutely thrilled that the exhibition has been recognised in this way.”

Professor Lucy Bland of ARU added: “This is a great honour and would not have been possible without the exhibition being digitised, for which I am hugely grateful to the Mixed Museum and Chamion.”

The Museums Change Lives Awards celebrate the achievements of museums that are making a difference to the lives of their audiences and communities across the UK. This year’s awards ceremony will take place in Liverpool on Monday 8 November as part of the Museums Association’s annual conference.

A physical version of the “Brown Babies” exhibition is touring the UK and is currently on display at Bristol’s Central Library until 15 November. The digital exhibition can be viewed at www.mixedmuseum.org.uk/brown-babies

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