Conference Paper (unpublished)

Representation and identity: Gypsy/Travellers and Museums



Ramsay R (2019) Representation and identity: Gypsy/Travellers and Museums. The Future of Social History: Who are we curating for? (Social History Curators Group), City Art Centre and Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, 18.07.2019-19.07.2019.

There are around 20,000 Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland today (and around 300,000 Gypsy Roma and Travellers across the UK). They exist in most communities, but they go largely unseen by the majority population. Similarly, the material culture of Gypsies and Travellers is present in many of our museum collections, but is often hidden in plain sight. Invisibility, in our communities and our museums, has a detrimental impact on these populations and has implications for education, employment and equality. It also provides conditions which allows continued ignorance and prejudice to thrive. This presentation will outline the (sometimes surprising) material that museums might have that is connected to these populations, and reveal some of the ways in which Gypsy/Travellers have been found to have directly contributed to the development of museum collections. Gypsy/Travellers and museums share a mutual interest in old objects, and this talk will highlight ways in which this has led to contact, networks and sometimes friendships between curators and these populations. It will also look at how some of our museum practices could be shifted in small ways to bring about positive change. The research that forms the basis of this presentation has been carried out with Gypsy/Travellers, who have offered insights and knowledge connected to collections, museums and how they view them. This has helped to bring new understanding to the material encountered, but also ideas around greater visibility and representation for these largely marginalised peoples within museums. Delegates will gain specific insights into the sorts of material that they might find in their own collections that are connected to Gypsy and Traveller communities, but will also be prompted to consider practical approaches within museum practice that could help give voice to a host of underrepresented individuals and groups within our museums.

ConferenceThe Future of Social History: Who are we curating for? (Social History Curators Group)
Conference locationCity Art Centre and Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

People (1)


Mrs Rhona Ramsay

Mrs Rhona Ramsay

PhD Researcher, History and Politics - Division

Research programmes

Research themes