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Contemporary objects go on display for the first time

29 July 2022

Gay Love It’s the Real Thing badge, date unknown, Andy Burnham's dark navy workers' jacket, Black Lives Matter knitted bannerette, 2020 and Brewdog Barnard Castle Eye Test beer can, 2020.

Over the summer months visitors to People’s History Museum will be able to see some of the objects that have recently been added to its collection.  Many of these represent events that have taken place over the last three years, and all play a part in telling the story of the past, present and future of democracy in Britain.

The Black Lives Matter protests spread across the world following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.  The Black Lives Matter knitted bannerette is on display in Main Gallery One alongside other recent acquisitions.  It was created from a pattern created by Ola Ogunlolu, who is a Black male knitter from the US.  It was displayed in the creator’s window at their home in Sale, Greater Manchester during Covid-19 showing how people adapted their protests to remain indoors, and how these events intersected.

The Dominic Cummings controversy became one of the ‘where were you’ moments at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This was when in March 2020 the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, made a journey across the country with Covid-19 symptoms during the first ‘lockdown’; a time when non-essential travel was forbidden.  Brewdog came up with a tongue-in-cheek response with the production of ‘hazy’ beer in the Brewdog Barnard Castle Eye Test beer can, profits from the sale of which went back into supporting the NHS.

Contemporary objects have the power to help you relive moments, to prompt reflection on what has taken place and to consider the actions taken since events have taken place.  The Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops badge does just this.  It was created by ‘War on Want’ to call the government to regulate fashion companies and guarantee decent working conditions.  During Covid-19 many UK based sweatshops continued to run illegally and with no safety controls in place this fuelled the case rates– especially among the working class and migrants who were often working for wages below minimum wage.

The North South divide was one of the issues highlighted during Covid-19. Andy Burnham’s dark navy workers’ jacket takes us to the period during which the Greater Manchester region was facing the harshest Covid-19 lockdown restrictions without a support package for businesses and low-paid workers.  The press conference held outside Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Tuesday 20 October 2020 became a defining moment, when the Mayor of Greater Manchester implored the government to give £65million of funding to support the region to ease the challenges that it was facing.  The jacket he wore is on display in the window of the Conservation Studio in Main Gallery Two and his speech notes are held in the museum’s collection.

Not every object when it is acquired by People’s History Museum includes all of the background information, which is the case for the Gay Love It’s the Real Thing badge.  Based on the Coca-Cola identity the date the badge was created is unknown and research into its story is ongoing. If you have any information please share the details with

People’s History Museum’s opening hours are Monday to Sunday, from 10.00am to 5.00pm during the school summer holidays.  The museum and its exhibitions are free to visit with a suggested donation of £5. To find out more visit, and keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to receive PHM’s e-newsletter, read the blog, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.



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People’s History Museum
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy. It shares stories about the struggle for equity and equality, celebrates radical history and provides space to explore contemporary issues through marginalised voices. PHM’s vision is of a fairer society where people’s voices and actions make a difference and its mission is to encourage people to care more about community and society, to speak up and take a stand on the issues that matter to them.

PHM is more than a museum about campaigning; it is a museum that campaigns, using its voice to encourage people to take action to bring about positive change.

PHM offers a powerful programme that it co-creates with communities with lived experience; 2018 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since some women and all men won the right to vote in Britain, in 2019 the focus was on protest to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, the 2020-2021 programme explored the theme of migration and beginning in 2022 disabled people’s rights and activism is the headline theme.

Key funders
PHM is incredibly grateful for the support of all its funders and stakeholders. PHM is an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). The work of PHM is supported using public funding by ACE, the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. PHM is funded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Culture Fund, supporting organisations to provide cultural activity and to work with, and in communities, across Greater Manchester.

Previous winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award. One of the 2020-1 winners of the Activist Museum Award. Shortlisted as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022.

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