A GROUNDBREAKING exhibition commemorating the arrival in Leicester of thousands of Ugandan Asians in 1972 has been named joint best ‘Temporary or Touring Exhibition’ at the prestigious Museums + Heritage Awards in London.
Rebuilding Lives – 50 Years of Ugandan Asians in Leicester formed the centrepiece of a programme of events, marking both the anniversary of the exodus of those fleeing the brutal dictator Idi Amin and the contribution made by the Asian community to Leicester’s culture and economy over the last half century.
Produced by Leicester-based arts organisation Navrang in partnership with the city council and delivered largely by a group of volunteers, Rebuilding Lives was the first South Asian exhibition of its kind to be shortlisted for the awards, earning huge praise from the judges.
It was also a hit with visitors, with more than 167,000 people visiting the exhibition during its nine-month run at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I’m enormously proud that Rebuilding Lives – 50 Years of Ugandan Asians in Leicester has been recognised with this prestigious award.
“I was determined that this landmark anniversary in the development of modern Leicester would be commemorated with a brilliant exhibition in our flagship museum, so I’m absolutely delighted that Navrang were able to rise to the challenge and create something very special.
“As well as commemorating the resilience and resourcefulness of thousands of people who were displaced and forced to start all over again, the exhibition celebrated the huge contribution that Leicester’s Ugandan Asian population has made to the city’s identity and culture over the last 50 years.”
Ranjan Saujani, acting chair of Navrang, said: “We were honoured to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award, but to win is absolutely amazing! It’s a great way to acknowledge the hard work the team have put in to creating, developing and delivering a truly special exhibition. It’s the perfect way to end the project!”
Nisha Popat of Navrang added: “To win this award is a remarkable achievement. When you consider who we were up against and the huge budgets they had compared to ours, we never thought we’d actually win! Winning this award is the icing on the cake. We’re so proud of the exhibition, how it’s grown, how it’s really touched the hearts of the communities involved and how it’s been acknowledged by the museum and heritage sector.”
Nishil Saujani of Navrang said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the exhibition and allowed us to share their stories. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, especially the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Leicester City Council, the Navrang team and our dedicated volunteers.”
Navrang was awarded just over £100,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a series of regional events, including this exhibition. Leicester City Council contributed more than £100,000 to facilitate the exhibition, including creating a new dedicated display space for it in the former World Arts Gallery at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.
Rebuilding Lives – 50 Years of Ugandan Asians in Leicester was named joint winner of the Temporary or Touring Exhibition category at the Museums + Heritage Awards along with English Heritage.
The winners were announced at an award ceremony – dubbed the ‘Oscars of the museum world’ – in London on Wednesday (10 May). A full list of winners is available here