A Museum of Racism

Captain Cook in Cairns

Let’s consign colonial era relics to history, where they belong.

As America finally starts to clear away the monuments to racism left behind by the Confederacy, people in Australia and the UK have begun debating what to do with their statues of racists and colonisers of the past.

In Bristol (UK) they dumped a statue of a slave trader into the local river. Elsewhere statues have been damaged and defaced.

There is a genuine debate to be had here: how to deal with the remnants of what is now rightly seen as a shameful past, without erasing history, with all the dangers that represents.

Former Soviet states have dealt with the problem by creating memorial parks for statues and monuments removed from public spaces in the cities.

LITHUANIA

In Lithuania, for example, Grutas Park, near Vilnius, holds many statues of Stalin (and is locally referred to as “Stalin World”).
Grutas Park, Lithuania (aka Stalin World) http://grutoparkas.lt/lauko-ekspozicija/

By Wojsyl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=203545

HUNGARY

Budapest has its Memento Park (aka Memorial Park) http://m.mementopark.hu/

Prosopee / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

RUSSIA

Perhaps the best known is the Muzeon Park, Moscow, Russia (aka Fallen Heroes Park) https://rusmania.com/central/moscow-federal-city/moscow/yakimanka/beyond-the-garden-ring-around-kaluzhskaya-ploschad/muzeon-art-park

https://blog.education.nationalgeographic.org/2017/08/30/how-russia-handled-its-own-monument-problem/
Fallen Stalin – National Geographic

INDIA

At least one former British colony has removed some, though not all, relics of their former rulers to Coronation Park, Delhi, India https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lseih/2019/06/20/coronation-park-and-the-forgotten-statues-of-the-british-raj/

https://www.asianage.com/metros/delhi/131218/iconic-coronation-park-littered-with-garbage-graffiti.html
Colonial relics in Delhi: Asian Age

AUSTRALIA?

The Soviet era relics in Moscow were at first simply dumped in the park and left to lie there, many in a damaged condition. Now the area has been reinvented as an outdoor museum and tourist attraction, with many of the statues once again standing on plinths.

The relics of the Raj in Delhi have not fared so well: the park is dilapidated, and many of the statues have no labels or other information to indicate who they depict. Memorials whose memory has been erased.

Here, then, is the answer for Australia. Gather together all the colonial era statuary and monuments in a park, create a Museum of Racism, thus truly consigning them to history, but not forgetting them.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)