The statue of Edward Colston in Bristol’s city centre was pulled down from its plinth and thrown into the harbour during a Black Lives Matters march in June 2020.  Several days later, Bristol City Council retrieved it.

Colston was one of the wealthiest and later most infamous names associated with the transatlantic traffic of enslaved African people to the Americas. 

One year on, the statue now forms part of a new display at Bristol museum M Shed to start a city-wide conversation about its future.  The statue is on display alongside a selection of placards from the protest as well as a timeline of key events leading up to 7 June 2020.

After its retrieval from the harbour, the conservation team at M Shed cleaned the statue and stabilised spray-paint graffiti on it to prevent flaking.  

Fran Coles, conservation and documentation manager at M Shed, said: “The aim of our conservation work was to stabilise the statue and prevent deterioration from the water and silt it had been exposed to.

“This will prepare the statue for whatever its future may be.  M Shed’s role is to reflect the history and contemporary issues relating to Bristol, telling the stories that matter to the people of Bristol.

“Therefore, it is a very suitable location for this short-term display of the statue.  It will enable visitors to take stock and make their own minds up concerning the future of the statue.  The display and survey will also be online, helping to reach people across the city and beyond.”

The Colston statue display is a partnership between M Shed and the We Are Bristol History Commission, which was set up by Bristol mayor Marvin Rees in September 2020 to consider the future of the statue. 

As part of a visit, visitors will have the chance to complete a survey.  M-Shed want to hear your thoughts on what happened that day and what you think should happen next.  Your feedback will help the History Commission make a recommendation on the future of the Colston statue.

The statue will be on display at M Shed from 4 June - 5 September 2021.  

Entry is free but all visits must be booked in advance.  Entry into the Colston statue display is included with a general museum entry ticket.  Due to social distancing, you may experience a queue for entry into this gallery.

Time slots are available every 30 minutes.

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Source: M Shed and The Guardian

Read more about M Shed, one of our Shipshape Network South West projects. 

M Shed COlston

Region South West