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People’s History Museum celebrates its 10th birthday

11 February 2020


People’s History Museum celebrates its 10th birthday

The 10th birthday (13 February 2020) of People’s History Museum (PHM) is being marked in a way that reflects the ethos, creativity and role of the national museum of democracy.  Banners and poetry, new interactives on the galleries, and a project for voters of the future all feature.

PHM holds the world’s largest collection of political and trade union banners, so it couldn’t be more fitting that for its 10th birthday Britain’s leading banner maker
Ed Hall has created a special banner dedicated to the museum.  Ed has made over 400 trade union and campaign banners over the last 30 years, each hand drawn and hand stitched as part of the intricate process that goes into these colourful artworks.  Campaigns for the vote, peace, disabled people’s rights, equality, LGBT+ rights, Rock Against Racism and more are visualised in Ed’s design to represent some of the stories shared at the museum.

Also marking a decade of activism, the poem Pessimism is for Lightweights by poet, activist and author Salena Godden will symbolically take its place at the home of ideas worth fighting for.  Salena’s words carry a message of hope, courage and resistance that have moved many people from different walks of life who have all embraced the poem’s message.  Inspired by the protests and rallies of the worldwide Women’s March, the poem will now inspire visitors to the museum, where it will be a permanent feature.  The piece begins ‘Think of those that marched this road before, And those that will march here in years to come’.  

PHM’s birthday sees the opening of two new interactive digital experiences in the main galleries as part of the journey that visitors are taken on when they join the revolutionaries, reformers, workers, voters and citizens who have championed the fight for rights and equality.  The Match Girls’ Strike (1888) and the Grunwick strike (1976-1978) span different centuries, but both tell of workers uniting and standing up for their rights, and both were led by women.  Visitors learn about the conditions at the Bryant & May match factory through an arcade style game where players’ progress is hampered by unfair fines and sickness.  Unlike previous disputes involving black and Asian workers, the strike at the Grunwick film processing factory received trade union support and that of thousands of workers from around the country.  The events of the strike are the focus of a new app through which visitors can explore 3D digital scans of objects from PHM’s collection using augmented reality (AR) and hear those involved, including the strike’s leader Jayaben Desai.

Developed in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), the new interactive experiences in the main galleries of People’s History Museum have been made possible thanks to a grant through the AIM Biffa Award Programme’s History Makers Scheme.  Biffa Award is a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.

Continuing to look forward the museum is also marking its birthday with the launch of a new project called Vital Voters, which aims to motivate young people, from the age of ten, to be active citizens and to be engaged with democratic processes.  An exciting suite of digital resources will be just one of the outcomes.

Vital Voters is a partnership project with Nesta, The Speaker’s Art Fund and UK Parliament Education and Engagement Team.

Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum, says, “Our 10th birthday gives us the opportunity to reflect upon the important role that we play as the national museum of democracy.  No other museum shares the stories that we do in the way that we do.  We are driven to keep pushing boundaries, with a desire to inspire more people with our work and to collaborate with partners and communities to share ideas worth fighting for.”

PHM’s 10th birthday begins a year in which the theme of migration will be explored throughout People’s History Museum in a programme that will feature exhibitions, events, learning sessions and creative collaborations.

People’s History Museum, located in central Manchester, is open seven days a week, from 10.00am to 5.00pm.  Radical Lates are on the second Thursday each month, open until 8.00pm.  The museum and its exhibitions are free to visit with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its full exhibitions and events programme visit


For further information, or to set up an interview please contact Fido PR: / 0161 832 3588

Images will be available of Ed Hall’s banner for People’s History Museum, the installation of Salena Godden’s poem and the new interactive digital experiences.

People’s History Museum 10 years on
In February 2010 People’s History Museum (PHM) opened the doors of its building on the banks of the River Irwell in Manchester city centre for the first time.  With two permanent galleries, a state of the art conservation studio, a changing exhibition gallery, archive and study centre and extensive learning and community spaces it was able to showcase, on a scale not seen before, the people and stories behind the ideas worth fighting for that it represents as the national museum of democracy.

PHM is the UK’s only museum entirely dedicated to sharing the stories of the revolutionaries, reformers, workers, voters and citizens who championed, then and now, for change and rallied for rights and equality.  It does this by working alongside the communities whose stories it tells and through an eclectic and colourful collection that features banners, badges, posters, artwork, cartoons, placards, personal items and more.

People’s History Museum timeline
The story of People’s History Museum and those that championed to have a national museum of democracy is as fascinating as the stories that it tells.  Download the museum’s timeline.

People’s History Museum’s collection
People’s History Museum holds a fascinating collection of historical items and contemporary pieces.  The team has selected ten pieces that they believe capture the ethos, spirit and importance of the collection.  Download the museum’s ten treasures.

People’s History Museum Impact Report
The report outlines the impact of the work that People’s History Museum’s has had over the last 10 years and was published for the first time at PHM’s 10th Birthday Party.  Download the Impact Report.

PHM spokespeople
Katy Ashton, Director, People’s History Museum
As PHM marks its 10th birthday Katy can talk about the history of the national museum of democracy and its role today.  Part of this conversation is about how the museum has shaped co-creation, its programme-led approach, its partnership work and what it believes the future of democracy might look like.

Notes to editors:

About People’s History Museum (PHM)
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for all people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.  PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since the first 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 programme for 2020 is on the theme of migration and 2021 will explore disabled people’s rights and activism.  Previous winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.

About Arts Council England (ACE)
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.  ACE support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.  Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us.  In short, it makes life better.  Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from The National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

 PHM’s new interactive digital experiences are supported by AIM Biffa Award:

AIM Biffa Award History Makers
Through the Association of Independent Museums (AIM), Biffa Award gives grants to museums, galleries and cultural facilities so that they can tell the stories of some of our lesser known historical figures through the History Makers Scheme.

Association of Independent Museums (AIM)
The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) is a national charitable organisation which helps independent and independently spirited museums, galleries and heritage sites prosper by connecting, supporting and representing them.  AIM’s membership ranges from voluntarily run community organisations to some of the largest museums in the country and includes museums, historic houses, heritage organisations, ships and historic railways as well as museum consultants and commercial suppliers.  AIM provides an independent viewpoint based on operational and business experience of running successful enterprises for public benefit.  New members are always welcome to join AIM’s thriving network to learn from their colleagues and to share their expertise.

Biffa Award
Since 1997, Biffa Award has awarded grants totalling more than £175 million to thousands of worthwhile community and environmental projects across the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The programme administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Landfill Communities Fund
The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with ENTRUST as Environmental Bodies (EBs).  EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites.  LOs are able to claim a credit (currently 4.2%) against their landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make.  Since its inception in 1996, over £1.6 billion has been spent on more than 56,000 projects across the UK.  For further information please visit or see HMRC’s general guide to landfill tax.

PHM’s Vital Voters project is supported by the following organisations:

With thanks to Nesta for supporting the Vital Voters project via their Amplified fund which supports cultural and creative organisations seeking to develop digital ideas that improve the lives of others.

The Speaker’s Art Fund
The Speaker’s Art Fund has awarded People’s History Museum grant funding to support the Vital Voters project.  The Speaker’s Art Fund was founded in 1929 by Speaker Whitley and has been a charitable trust since 2004.  The Fund promotes public knowledge and understanding of the system of government and of the constitutional and political history of the UK, with particular reference to the historical and continuing role of parliament.  This is achieved through the collection and display of works of art and other related activities.

UK Parliament Education and Engagement
The UK Parliament Education and Engagement Team seeks to inform and educate young people about the work and role of the UK parliament through their award winning education services.  Working alongside schools, colleges and communities across the UK, the service promotes an understanding of both the House of Commons and House of Lords. The Education and Engagement Team work on a variety of public facing campaigns, ranging from UK Parliament Week and the EqualiTeas programme to Vote 100 and the Your Story, Our History film series.  Further information on the learning opportunities at UK Parliament can be found here.

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