Record-breaking Power of Stories exhibition to tour three Suffolk museums

Marvel costumes on display at the Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich

One of the stunning Marvel costumes on display at the Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich - Credit: Danielle Booden

A record-breaking exhibition - which features three original costumes from the Marvel blockbusting film Black Panther - will tour three popular Suffolk museums over the next year. 

The Power of Stories exhibition, which broke footfall records during its four-month run at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich last year, is currently at Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds until April 28. 

The exhibition will also visit the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket in June before heading to the Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh in October. 

The costumes of T’Challa (Black Panther), Shuri and Okoye from the film cannot be seen elsewhere in the UK. 

Supported by Suffolk County Council, each museum will re-imagine the exhibition to suit each venue space, culture and specialist theme.

The Power of Stories Exhibition in Suffolk

Comic book artwork can also be seen at the exhibition - Credit: Megan Wilson

Museums will be working with community curators, such as Africa historian Imani Sorhaindo, who helped produce the original exhibition, and will also run related community events programmes. 

More than 23,700 people visited Power of Stories in Ipswich between June and October last year, and when Marvel Studios agreed to extend the costume loans, it was decided to take the exhibition around the county. 

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Power of Stories was originally produced by Ipswich Museums, with support from Arts Council England, and the costumes will continue to be on show in Bury St Edmunds along with comic book art and photography. 

The success of the exhibition even led to the launch of a new social enterprise - Aspire Black Suffolk CIC

Visitors at the Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich

The Power of Stories exhibition can now be seen at Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury - Credit: Danielle Booden

Writer and consultant Imani Sorhaindo said: “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.”

Jo Rayner, cabinet member for leisure and culture at West Suffolk Council, which runs Moyse’s Hall Museum, said: "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 Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich

The exhibition in Ipswich attracted record-breaking numbers - Credit: Danielle Booden

Elma Glasgow, co-director of Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, said: “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.”

Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public health and communities, 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.”

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

Power of Stories tour locations and dates are planned to be as follows:

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

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

Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh - October to January 2023

Visit the websites for Moyse's Hall or Power of Stories for more information.