Saturday 11th March 2017 – Migration Museum

Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond

The Calais camp has become a potent symbol of Europe’s migration crisis. Public opinion on this ever- evolving shantytown and its inhabitants is polarised: to some a threatening swarm seeking entry to our already overstretched island-nation, to others a shameful symbol of our failed foreign policy. Amid such debate, it is easy to lose sight of the thousands of individuals who have found themselves in limbo in Calais, each with their own story and reasons for wanting to reach Britain.

Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond is a multimedia exhibition, taking place in a momentous month that sees both the EU referendum and Refugee Week. It explores the complexity and human stories behind the current migration crisis, with a particular focus on the Calais camp.

The exhibition features compelling works by established and emerging artists, refugees, camp residents and volunteers. These include a powerful new installation by award-winning artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, art by ALPHA using materials from the camp, drawings of Calais by illustrator Nick Ellwood, art and photography by camp residents, and an installation of lifejackets embedded with the stories of their wearers.

Adopting Britain

Adopting Britain ends at Southbank Centre

We are very proud to have been a part of the Adopting Britain exhibition, curated by Southbank Centre in partnership with Counterpoints Arts, during its run at Royal Festival Hall from April to September 2015.

We received an enormous amount of enthusiasm and support from visitors to the exhibit, which featured our 100 Images of Migration and Keepsakes.


What if the most powerful objects, with the most moving stories attached, are not in museum collections but hidden away in people’s homes?

Keepsakes is a display of personal items that keep memories of migration and identity alive. Museum collections represent society’s decisions about what objects are valuable enough to hand down to future generations. But museum objects matter less to most people than the objects their parents and grandparents chose to pass on to them, and which they hand on to their own children and grandchildren.

Working with communities and individuals, the Migration Museum Project, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, explores the nature and importance of personal keepsakes in telling migration stories.

For more information, do read Sue McAlpine’s blog post, “A Keepsake is a very special thing”, for our curator’s insight into the project.

Our Migration Story

The twentieth and twenty-first centuries simultaneously saw unprecedented movement of populations, and increasing restriction on those migrations. In Britain it was the 1905 Aliens Act which introduced this new period of immigration control. However, less than a decade later, on the verge of the huge upheavals to all European societies caused by the two world wars, the scale, scope and nature of migration to Britain was set to change. Arrivals from Britain’s then-current and eventually former colonies coupled with Britain’s closer integration into the European Economic Community and its successor the European Union altered patterns of migration and led to, as it had in eras before, organised efforts for rights by migrant groups and hostility from, in particular, politicians and the British press. Migrants, of course, didn’t encounter resistance alone. Rights struggles were aided with the organised support of Britons of all backgrounds and stripes and have seen, in their course and aftermath, a more public role for immigrants and their children in all aspects of British life…

A migrant crisis or an identity crisis?

As in earlier centuries, migration to Britain in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries saw transformation in areas from business, fashion and food to music, the media, sport, the visual arts, literature, and beyond. While parts of the country seem relaxed and comfortable with these changes, other parts and people remain uneasy about what migration and the changes it has brought mean for British identity.

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