Bosses at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle have revealed plans to 'decolonise' exhibits there.
It could see historic items and artefacts held for years being repatriated to their homeland.
It is already in discussions with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) over items in its World Cultures collections.
Outlining its policy, it explains on its website: "The history of the collections at the Great North Museum: Hancock spans over 250 years. This means that a number of our objects are inextricably linked with Britain’s colonial past and systemic racism.
"We acknowledge this and are working towards using these collections in an equitable and just way."
The policy of 'decolonisation' became a national debate last summer with the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
However Executive Museum Manager, Caroline McDonald, said it was an issue they had been looking at long before then.
"We're always thinking about how we can improve what we do to be more inclusive generally," she said.
"The debate about decolonisation has got a lot of traction in recent years and we've put our policy on our web page so people can understand what we're doing and what our plans are in the short, medium and long term.
"We wanted to move away from just rhetoric. This is our commitment."
Many museums and galleries were founded during the colonial era and their collections, to a greater or lesser extent, were acquired from areas of the world that were colonised.
The Great North Museum: Hancock has world cultures collections made up of numerous biological and geological specimens from former British colonies. One of their concerns is to find out how it acquired these objects.
Whilst many of were probably obtained through trade or as gifts, some may well have been taken by force from their owners, as another result of imperialism is the looting of resources and material from subject peoples.
The short term will see the museum publicising the policy of decolonisation and repatriation of exhibits and trying to secure funding to to appoint an external expert for a full organisational review and a detailed action plan.
In the long term it will also see changes to the Living Planet Gallery and Egypt Gallery while there are also plans for a full re-display of the World Cultures Gallery and a change in the way certain items are labelled and the stories told about them.
Repatriating exhibits is not new to them. Back in 2006, it returned the remains of three Aboriginal individuals to Australia. At a similar time the Museum returned several Maori tattooed heads to the Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington, New Zealand.
As for what might be considered for repatriation today, museum heads gave three examples.
A Roman tombstone from Housesteads fort on Hadrian’s Wall representing a Syrian archer. The Roman Empire relied on military manpower from different provinces. This diversity in the Roman army is not really emphasised in our Hadrian’s Wall Gallery, said the museum, but could become part of a decolonised approach to understanding race in Antiquity.
A Hawaiian wickerwork head on display at the Great North Museum was brought to Britain sometime in the late 18th or early 19th century when British exploration of the world often paved the way for the creation of colonies.
Then there's a carved wooden mask from the Nuu-Chah-Nuulth people of North West Canada. This late 19th Century object is an example of an item in the Museum’s collection from a former British colony.
Other things that could be considered are items belonging to Sunderland-born hunter-naturalist Abel Chapman donate after his death. As well as detailed diaries and books, they included a large number of animal heads, horns and tusks which he gathered from safaris in Africa at a time when it was under colonial rule.
In a blog on the website explaining the policy, Andrew Parkin, Keeper of Archaeology, Great North Museum: Hancock said: "Decolonisation, for us, is not an attempt to completely rewrite history, but rather an effort to shed light on areas of our past that have been neglected, or simply ignored.
"By changing the way we work and acknowledging our colonial past we can decolonise how we work and move towards becoming a more open, honest institution."