Global Citizens - Make an Impact!
Wilberforce House and Citizenship Learning
How Can Wilberforce House Museum Support Citizenship Learning?
The 19th century American philosopher, poet and cultural critic, George Santayana is credited with saying that:
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
A proper sense of Citizenship includes knowing about the links between past and present. It is about learning from, and understanding the past in order to make the future world a better place to live and thrive in. Museums are a critical tool in this learning process. Museums can provide a unique space where difficult issues can be explored in the spirit of debate. They are areas in which visitors can form opinions and make sense of their past.
At Wilberforce House Museum the main theme of debate is indeed a 'difficult' issue- that of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and the fight for its abolition. This issue is explored through different mediums and from different viewpoints, allowing visitors to gain a personal understanding of the issue, and to reflect on how we, as Global Citizens have learnt from this past experience.
Museums have often been seen as institutions that stand still or focus only on what has 'been and gone'. But the reality is quite different. Museums can be used not only to learn about past culture but also to explore culture today.
Wilberforce House Museum is an excellent example of how museums can do this. The museum brings the story of William Wilberforce and his fight for the abolition of slavery right up to date by tackling modern day issues. These new 'Contemporary Galleries' prove that the fight for human rights and against modern days forms of slavery is by no means over. The Contemporary Galleries enable visitors to explore current issues, to join in debate and to find out how they, like William Wilberforce 200 years ago, can become active 'Global Citizens' and join in human rights campaigns.
For more information about how museums can support Citizenship learning, follow the link below for the DCMS report
Understanding the Future: Museums and 21st Century Life.
Find out more about William Wilberforce, his life and work.