The Past is Now explores Birmingham’s relationship to the British Empire. 

It has been co-curated alongside Birmingham based graphic designer, Abeera Kamran; artivist, Aliyah Hasinah; writer, Mariam Khan; cultural activist, Sara Myers; textile designer, Shaheen Kasmani, writer and researcher Sumaya Kassim.

At its height in 1922, the British Empire covered a quarter of the world and ruled over 458 million people. However, the creation and retention of the Empire resulted in many people losing their lives or becoming severely traumatised. Whilst the Empire has officially ended, its legacy still exists today in institutional structures and affects both individual and national senses of identity.

This exhibition challenges the typical colonial narrative used to present the history of the British Empire. By focusing on a few key events and themes, the exhibition examines the museum’s own bias in telling difficult narratives and explores other perspectives, which have been historically misrepresented. 

This exhibition will be shown in our new gallery Story Lab. Story Lab is a space that will test different storylines and ways of creating museum displays. We encourage visitors to interact, feedback and engage in conversations with us and each other. Your responses to this exhibition will affect how the museum displays these topics in the future. #ThePastIsNow 

Accompanying Events

There will be a series of events to accompany this exhibition, see the What's On page for details.