Birmingham’s Commonwealth Heritage – the Lunar Legacy

In April (2022) the Lunar Society received National Lottery Heritage Funding for a 2-year project to explore and celebrate what the original Lunar Society of Birmingham gave to the world, and what the world – and citizens of the Commonwealth in particular – has given to Birmingham.

Using the 18th century as a starting point, the project will look at the Lunar Society’s positive contribution to global issues like the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, scientific and medical advances and the advancement of religious and political liberty. However, we will also take a more critical look at some of the Society’s more ambiguous activities, not least how some of its members benefitted from their links to international trade and slavery and the growth of the British Empire.

However, the project will go beyond these early, often negative, colonial relationships and show how a more positive history has been created by the contribution of people from all over the Commonwealth to the development of Birmingham as modern multi-cultural city.

A key objective is to involve and engage more people from a wider range of backgrounds (including those not usually interested in ‘heritage’) by working in partnership with a number of community-based organisations.

The programme includes the making of 2 films, a heritage walking trail in the city centre, a temporary exhibition which will travel to different venues, a schools’ programme, a community heritage art project at Soho House and a walks programme led by the Black Heritage Walks Network. The project will also deliver a general activities programme which includes tours of St Mary’s Church, Handsworth, archive workshops at the Library of Birmingham and family events at Soho House Museum. 


Events programme 

A key objective is to involve and engage more people from a wider range of backgrounds (including those not usually interested in ‘heritage’) by working in partnership with a number of community-based organisations.”

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