Power of Stories With Costumes From Marvel Studios’ Black Panther Embarks On Year-long Tour of Suffolk Museums

Following its success at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich last year, the Power of Stories exhibition is set to tour museums across Suffolk throughout the year, and is currently at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, until Thursday 28 April.

After breaking footfall records during its four-month run in Ipswich, Power of Stories, which features three original costumes from Marvel Studios’ global blockbuster Black Panther, is also planned to visit The Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket, and culminates with Britten Pears Arts showing the exhibition at Snape Maltings.

The costumes cannot be seen elsewhere in the UK.

Supported by Suffolk County Council, each museum will re-imagine Power of Stories to suit each venue space, culture and specialist theme. Museums will be working with community curators, such as Africa historian Imani Sorhaindo, who helped produce the original exhibition.

Between June and October 2021, more than 23,700 people from a broad range of ages and backgrounds visited Power of Stories. Now, thanks to Marvel Studios agreeing to extend the costume loans and swift preparation by museums, more of the public can see the exhibition as it moves from location to location. Museums will also run related community events programmes.

Power of Stories was originally produced by Ipswich Museums, with Support from Arts Council England, to echo Marvel Studios’ Black Panther’s inspirational call to millions of people around the world to think about where they came from and who they want to be. Continuing its legacy and theme, the exhibition at Moyse’s Hall Museum will include the costumes of T’Challa (aka Black Panther), Shuri and Okoye alongside some of the historic museum objects, comic books, comic book art and photography from the Ipswich exhibition.

The new version of Power of Stories will offer visitors a different experience, with an entry fee of £5 for adults, concessions (60+) £4.50, children under 16 and students £3.

At Moyse’s Hall Museum, the Marvel costumes will act as a catalyst to enable community stories to come to life.

Imani Sorhaindo

Writer and consultant Imani Sorhaindo (also Director of KMT Rising Ltd) is advising the team around community accessibility. Imani says: “As a Community Curator, my role in collaborating with the museum helps to bring the voice of marginalised groups whose narratives are often unheard. I play a key role in helping to ensure historical tactile or digital objects and written content is portrayed in a balanced and accurate way.”

Imani will also be delivering her talk, African Queens Throughout History, on Friday 25th March, 7-8.30pm, at the museum as part of its Power of Stories events programme. Tickets will be available soon.

Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture at West Suffolk Council which runs Moyse’s Hall Museum, said: “We are both delighted and excited to work with Aspire Black Suffolk to bring the successful Power of Stories exhibition to West Suffolk. While the film costumes and comic book artwork will no doubt appeal with their stories of fiction and real life influence, this exhibition is also about some of the stories not yet heard.

“This represents a fantastic opportunity to work with people within our communities, to seek out the stories of peoples’ lives that are so central to how we learn and understand from each other and from the past. Social history is a common thread of our work at Moyse’s Hall and the team is looking forward to further developing the exhibition with Imani Sorhaindo, listening, exploring and supporting the diversity of our communities. It is a great way to start 2022.”

The impact of Power of Stories’ has been far-reaching. After achieving its aim of attracting a greater diversity of people to Christchurch Mansion and inspiring local communities, part of its legacy includes the new Ipswich-based social enterprise, Aspire Black Suffolk CIC.

Elma Glasgow

Elma Glasgow, Co-director of partner organisation, Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, says: “Power of Stories is an example of wonderful results created by honest and close relationships between community and museums. I believe it broke records due the intelligent and heart-led curation which connected the Oscar-winning costumes from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther with untold stories and historical displays – there was something for everyone while keeping the black community at its core.

“Aspire Black Suffolk is collaborating with the museums on community outreach and community events for Power of Stories. As the company was born out of Power of Stories in Ipswich, it feels right that we continue this innovative work to help bring about long-lasting equality.”

Ipswich Borough Council’s Museums Service Portfolio Holder, Cllr Carole Jones, adds: “The Ipswich Museums team and community curators put in an incredible amount of work to bring the vision behind Power of Stories to life, so it is excellent news that the legacy of the exhibition will continue to inspire people in Suffolk. We hope the tour of the costumes will enable more stories to be told, and extend the project’s reach to have a positive impact on local communities.”

Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, Cllr Andrew Reid said: “Lives and communities can be transformed through heritage and cultural engagement. We are therefore delighted to support the ongoing legacy of Power of Stories, enabling the programme to have a broader reach into communities across Suffolk.”

Power of Stories Tour locations and dates are planned to be:

Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds, Monday 28 January to Thursday 28 April

Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket, June to September 2022

Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh – October to January 2023

Visit www.moyseshall.org/whats-on and www.powerofstories.co.uk for more information.

A new exhibition website will be available soon.

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