A partnership of Museums

Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, and the award-winning Partition Museum (set up by The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust), in Amritsar, India, are forming a five-year partnership, following the announcement at The British High Commissioner’s Residence in New Delhi.

The Manchester India Partnership and Andy Burnham

The news was welcomed by leaders from across Manchester’s business and public sectors during talks to broaden and deepen Manchester-India ties.

The Manchester India Partnership (MIP) took Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester’s first elected Mayor, on his first official visit to India. Partnering with the Department for International Trade, MIP led a six-day schedule encompassing engagements in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.

The over-arching objective of the trip was to continue to build on Greater Manchester’s award-winning India agenda and to continue the city region’s drive to build an ever closer, mutually-beneficial partnership.

We truly appreciate the partnership we have developed with the Manchester Museum, especially as we explore different aspects of our joint colonial history. We look forward to fresh scholarship on an often contested past, fresh methodology of presentation and renewed understanding between the two countries through these two Museums.

Kishwar Desai / Chair of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust

Developing collaborative work around:

  • knowledge on best practice
  • learning programmes
  • international youth apprenticeships/exchanges
  • exchange of research information
  • exchanges of staff
  • research programmes;
  • exploring the history of India and Britain’s relationship pre-Partition

The collaboration follows the success of a co-curated exhibition between both museums Jallianwala Bagh 1919: Punjab under Siege which has been shortlisted for an Asian Media Award. The exhibition, which closed on 2 October 2019, a date that marks 150 years since the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, coincided with the centenary of the massacre in April 2019, and the bicentenary commemorations for the Peterloo massacre.

Revisiting the event, its causes and aftermath, the nuanced exhibition explored what we remember, how we remember it, and what we have forgotten, in India and the UK. Both museums are located in cities deeply affected by colonialism. Through Jallianwala Bagh 1919: Punjab under Siege Manchester Museum took the lead on addressing the need for a Global South perspective on the use of violence by British forces against peaceful protestors and its legacy. The exhibition evolved from a two-year research project by the Partition Museum team in India, locating long lost documents and forgotten personal stories of the people who were present at the Bagh, in 1919. This is part of the special effort by the Partition Museum to be a ‘people’s museum’.

While working with the Partition Museum it became clear we are fellow travellers with a shared vision and values. We recognise museums can make a difference by bringing new perspectives to the fore and look forward to continuing to learn from each other.

Esme Ward / Director of Manchester Museum

The need for such alternative perspectives is also inspiring the creation of the South Asia Gallery at Manchester Museum, part of a £13.5 million transformation due to open in 2021. Publicly funded by Arts Council England and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the gallery is a landmark partnership with the British Museum and co-curated with members of Manchester’s South Asian diaspora communities.

The exhibition echoes the University’s commitment to working internationally through new and innovative collaborations. The University has a long history of welcoming students from India, resulting in having one of the largest numbers of undergraduate and postgraduate students of Indian origin in the UK outside London.