About the exhibition

In 2021, the Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion brought together film costumes, historic museum objects and local stories to create a display exploring storytelling and identity.

From folklore to fake news, people have told stories for thousands of years.

Three iconic costumes from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther were woven into a patchwork of storytelling traditions from across time and place. The outfits of T’Challa, Shuri and Okoye featured in the ground-breaking film were displayed alongside Marvel comics, historic museum objects and local stories.

From music to movies, carvings to cartoons, the exhibition asked how the stories we know shape the way we see the world.

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther

The release of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, adapted by director Ryan Coogler from the original comic character, was a significant moment in cinematic history. Through three Oscar-winning costumes on loan from Marvel Studios, visitors were able to explore Marvel’s powerful brand of storytelling and see how objects from our collections relate to the film, as well as discover the impact of the film in our area and explore the story of how and why the Ipswich & Suffolk Council For Racial Equality (ISCRE) came into being.

Comics and stories

Comics have produced some of the most enduring heroes and villains of the last hundred years and have become a significant part of how we tell stories. Visitors could discover the unique techniques of comics, the power they hold, and the themes they have addressed over the years. Some of the most iconic Marvel issues were on display, including The Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and of course the earliest Black Panther appearances, as well as exclusively commissioned comic art by Dan Malone.

Storytelling and culture

The varied methods of storytelling used by humans through time and across place and the ways stories can be used to shape thoughts, beliefs and memories was explored in the exhibition. Throughout history, many stories have been suppressed or silenced. Collections from across the globe were displayed, including shadow puppets, carved poles, storybooks, musical instruments, sculptures and cartoons.

Working with the community

A team of Community Curators, made up of local people, worked with the museum to create an exhibition which encourages visitors to think about how storytelling can be used as a tool to unite or divide people. Their input shaped the displays and interpretation.

Image credit: EVEWRIGHT Youth Community Mural, funded by The National Lottery Fund, supported by 14 youth and community groups, produced by Art Eat Events CIC, photo by John Ferguson, St Peter’s Dock Ipswich Waterfront.

Community events

Alongside the displays, local community members came together to create a powerful programme of activities which celebrate black history and culture. We’re empowering more people to work with us in weaving a programme of events which explore storytelling, comics, history and art of all kinds – with quizzes, discussion panels, creative workshops and study days to name just a few.