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Ipswich museum puts out job advert for 'social justice champion' with salary of up to £35,000 to help 'decolonise' collection



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Museum bosses are seeking a 'social justice champion' who will be paid up to £35,000 to help 'decolonise' collections.

The successful candidate will address legacies of imperialism and patriarchal power structures, a job advert states.

Paid between £29k and £35k, the senior curator for decolonial practice will operate at Ipswich Museum, which exhibits worldwide human and natural history.

Ipswich Museum. Picture by Mark Westley
Ipswich Museum. Picture by Mark Westley

Last year councillors agreed that some displays at the 175-year-old museum were 'problematic, with certain artefacts of questionable provenance'.

The new role - advertised on the government's Find a job website - is offered as an 'exciting opportunity' for a 'social justice champion'.

The job description states: "You will work with us and our local communities to address the legacies of imperialism, patriarchal power structures and inherent biases in our current displays.

Ipswich Museum. Picture by Mark Westley
Ipswich Museum. Picture by Mark Westley

"You will act as an advocate for tackling the colonial representation of objects, working to make the service more relevant and relatable to audiences."

The curator will be trusted with a budget of up to £45,000 and will work 37 hours a week on a two-year contract.

One of the key responsibilities is to work with museum colleagues to 'shape narratives relating to Empire'.

Candidates are expected to have experience working in museums and equality, diversity and inclusion projects.

Ipswich Museum. Picture by Mark Westley
Ipswich Museum. Picture by Mark Westley

The role, which is partly funded by a £4.5m grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, is open to applicants until May 6.

The council-led Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service revealed plans last June to encourage transparency about the origin and context of its displays.

The group runs popular cultural sites including Colchester Castle, Colchester’s Hollytrees Museum and Natural History Museum, Ipswich Art Gallery and Christchurch Mansion.

A document approved by Colchester and Ipswich Borough Councils stated: "The documentation of much of the world cultures collection, collected predominantly in the 19th century, is superficial and needs urgent remedial investigation.

“Whilst the museum has an array of world objects, its current ethnic visitor profile does not reflect that of the local, diverse demographic."

Frank Hargrave, Colchester and Ipswich Museums manager, said last year that he hoped for greater transparency and diversity in exhibits.

Mr Hargrave said: "It’s not about being unnecessarily provocative, it’s about finding long-term solutions and working with people to find solutions without being tokenistic or overly antagonistic.”

He added it was 'not about taking stories away or hiding things, very much the opposite'.