Tate Britain Censored Marcus Rediker’s Gallery Proposal?

Tate Britain Censored Marcus Rediker's Rehung Gallery Proposal for Turner Painting in London, Historian Claims.

Jun 13, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The Tate Britain
The Tate Britain. Via Tate


Tate Britan is currently working on rehanging its gallery in London. Historian Marcus Rediker gave his suggestion on where Turner’s artwork “A Disaster at Sea” should be placed. But, as historian Rediker said in a London Review of Books article, the museum “censored” his proposal. J. M. W. Turner painted the piece in 1835.


Rediker Resigned from Tate Britain in Sign of Protest

The Tate Britain


Rediker wanted the artwork to be next to an object that would better evoke the history of violence in England. After the museum said no, the historian ended the cooperation with the museum. It all happened just before the rehang’s May debut. “I resigned in protest when one of my curatorial choices was censored by the museum”, Rediker wrote on Twitter.


The biography on Rediker’s website states that he worked with the museum for five years, as guest currator. On the other hand, an official for Tate Britain disputed that. Instead, the institution said he was simply one among several historians hired to look for artifacts that could turn out interpreted as reactions to the works on display.


Tate Britain’s rehang. PHOTO MADELEINE BUDDO/©TATE


Rediker did not give any feedback for these comments. Also, the rehang at the museum attracted a lot of interest in the UK. The museum now pays more attention to women and artists of color than before. Numerous of the rehang’s critics focused on art museum’s greater concentration on links between gathering pieces and the slave trade, which caused controversy even before viewers could witness the display.

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Why the Museum Decline Rediker’s Suggestion?

The Tate inside
The Tate inside. via wikipedia


Based on the London Review of Books piece, the institution requested Rediker to assist them in figuring out how to respond to Turner’s artwork. Many think the artwork represents the 1833 sinking of a ship carrying 12 children and 108 female convicts. Whilst the Amphitrite did not depart from where the museum’s location is, the museum currently resides in the old site of a jail that held female convicts before they made their way to Australia.


Rediker allegedly suggested putting a “punishment box”, a tool used to punish female prisoners on cruisers like the Amphitrite, right to the Turner. But the museum apparently denied to do so since it is unclear which ship is featured in A Disaster at Sea. The museum also showed concern  about “triggering” emotions and the punishment box’s “domineering presence”.


A Disaster at Sea
A Disaster at Sea. via Wikipedia.


“I invited Marcus to be one of these curators, but sadly one aspect of his proposal – to build an interactive replica of a torture device – was neither an artwork nor historic artefact, and would have presented a number of insurmountable practical problems for an art museum. I remained supportive of his other proposals, and all our discussions about the rehang were inspirational, as is his work in general”, Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson said in a statement.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.