Capital museum could remove ‘offensive’ golliwog display

The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood could be set to remove their collection of golliwog dolls amid complaints from tourists, according to The Times.

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Britain’s oldest children’s museum, situated in the Capital’s Royal Mile, recently posted a disclaimer beside the toys explaining the reason for their display.

The black-skinned dolls have been available for visitors to see since the museum first opened back in the 1950s.

Anti-racism campaigners have said they will support the display if visiting children are made fully aware of the history of racism in Scotland.

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At present the notice posted beside the display reads: “We recognise that some visitors may feel the golliwogs on display in the museum represent negative racial stereotypes.

“We do not uphold such stereotypes and do not wish to cause any offence but believe that it is right to display these toys because they were such a significant part of British childhood from the 1890s to the 1950s.

“As soon as we have the opportunity to upgrade the museum’s display we will consider alternative ways of interpreting these toys and reflecting the attitudes towards them in more recent years.”

Nicola Hay, the Scottish campaign manager for Show Racism the Red Card, believes much more should be done on the matter.

She said: “Golly dolls perpetuate racism as they hark back to a time when the mockery and stereotyping of black people was considered a social norm.

“However, we would support the display of golly dolls within the museum if they were accompanied with an education segment, or an interaction educational journey, so that young people could understand the history of racism in Scotland.

“Simply placing a sign up stating that some people may find the display offensive is not good enough.”

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