When the HMT Empire Windrush docked in the Port of Tilbury, outside London, in June 1948, it carried one of the largest groups of West Indian migrants to the United Kingdom, and its journey has become an iconic symbol of Caribbean post-war migration to Britain. The impact of West Indian migration was transformational for British society, touching all aspects of life, including work, culture, politics and sport.
The design for the VMCMM began in 2017 as part of the EU-LAC Museums Horizons 2020 project. The virtual museum was paired with a complementary physical exhibition, The Enigma of Arrival: The Politics and Poetics of Caribbean Migration to Britain, designed by the Barbados Museum & Historical Society and The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus. The exhibition travelled to key locations on main Caribbean migration routes, as well as prominent final ports of call, in order to encompass the totality of the migration experience, obtain stories from those affected, and show connections with modern immigration topics.
The virtual museum combines physical and digital exhibits, offering greater audience accessibility and participation in order to develop a collection of previously undocumented individual stories. It uses an archiving system designed specifically for the project that aligns with open heritage aggregators and schema. It also supports the creation of new media, such as video entries, photogrammetry for the preservation of tangible heritage, and virtual tours of locations associated with stories. A focus on telling individual stories of the Windrush Generation using images, text and video allows previously unheard voices to contribute to a significant historical moment. Collected stories, associated media and resources, and highlighted individuals are accessed by search, galleries and an interactive mapping interface, displaying the virtual museum’s collection in a comprehensive design.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 693669