People’s History Museum (PHM) is striving towards its vision of being a museum that is as welcoming and accessible as it can possibly be with the news that it has achieved Museum of Sanctuary status and been awarded funding to begin a programme of work that will make its building more accessible. It is planning for a bold year ahead in its programmes, activism and visitor experiences.
Museum of Sanctuary
The Museum of Sanctuary award, presented by City of Sanctuary UK, recognises the inclusive and welcoming approach taken by People’s History Museum towards people seeking asylum and refugees. It highlights the work that it has done to explore and raise awareness of the theme of migration with communities and visitors and to actively demonstrate the positive contributions refugees make to our society. And in doing all of this PHM has worked alongside local organisations that support refugees and asylum seekers and a Community Programme Team made up of individuals whose lives have been shaped by migration.
As an activist museum PHM has used its voice to campaign with a coalition of international development charities, grassroot and community organisations, refugee-led groups and cultural institutions against the government’s actions towards refugees. Seeking a compassionate approach to refugees, one that is fair and kind, this campaign will continue in the year ahead.
The first Museum of Sanctuary award was made in 2018 to Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum and PHM joins a list of museums which includes Norfolk Museums Service and Leicester Museum and Art Gallery.
Making PHM more accessible
Museum of Sanctuary is about PHM’s staff, communities and contributors, its next project for 2023 is about the building itself and the quest to make it more accessible. This is part of the work accompanying its current exhibition, Nothing About Us Without Us – which explores the history of disabled people’s activism and the ongoing fight for rights and inclusion. Following an access audit by Manchester Disabled People’s Access Group the recommendations made are now being taken forward thanks to the support of the following funders: National Lottery Heritage Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2022-24, Valencia Communities Fund, the Government’s Changing Places Fund in partnership with Manchester City Council and Foyle Foundation. The outcomes will not only improve access to PHM, its exhibitions and events, but also create an accessible civic space in the Spinningfields area of Manchester city centre. There will be a brand new Changing Places Toilet, a new entrance door with improved accessibility, signage, walkways and display. Preparations are underway and the work will be completed in late 2023/early 2024.
The visitor experience 2023 and beyond
As the national museum of democracy PHM also has its eye on what will unfold in the coming months with the next general election on the horizon. Its rich collection of historic and contemporary objects reflects the story of democracy in Britain and its archive includes items of international importance making PHM the place to discover the nation’s political story over the last 250 years. The 2024 Banner Exhibition, Family Friendly activities and gallery tours are just some of the activities planned to explore the past, present and future of general elections.
Also set to come to fruition in the coming months is a project that has taken two years to complete and a dedicated team to carry it out. Spring 2023 sees the completion of an audit and review of PHM’s designated poster collection that has resulted in them being catalogued, condition checked and digitalised. Featuring around 2,000 posters, this nationally celebrated collection features moments in history, incredible reflections of democracy and beautiful design work. The posters will become central features within some of the museum’s future programming.
More information on planning your visit to PHM is available here.
PHM’s Radical Circle
2023 is expected to bring continued challenges, which only makes the vision for a fairer society more important. PHM believes there is vital work to be done and is hoping that more like-minded organisations will join it in by becoming part of the Radical Circle.
The Radical Circle is made up of organisations and individuals who share PHM’s ethos and are able to pledge their support by donating of £1,000 or more each year. Keeping entry to the museum free, providing learning opportunities for schoolchildren, innovative work with communities, inspiring future generations – these are just some of the ways this support is making a difference.
A new addition to the Radical Circle is chartered accountants Beever and Struthers, who were drawn to the opportunity to demonstrate their social values by doing something that would have real impact.
Maria Hallows, Executive Partner from Beever and Struthers, says, “Beever and Struthers works nationally, but our head office and heart is in Manchester. You might not expect accountants and auditors to be drawn to ‘ideas worth fighting for’, but we have worked with People’s History Museum for many years, and this ethos is one that resonates, and we are delighted to support.”
PHM welcomes all supporters in different ways: a one off donation, a regular contribution of £3 a month as a Radical Friend or as members of the Radical Circle. More information is available here.
People’s History Museum’s opening hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm, every day except Tuesday. Entry is free, with most visitors donating £10. To find out about visiting PHM, its full exhibitions and events programme visit phm.org.uk, and you can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to receive PHM’s e-newsletter, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.
Becky Peters, Director (interim), People’s History Museum
Becky can share the latest thinking from PHM; its vision, its ambitions, its work and its plans. This includes co-curation, future programmes and its role as an activist museum.
Jenny Mabbott, Head of Collections & Engagement, People’s History Museum
Jenny oversees the Programme, Collections and Learning Teams at PHM, and can talk about the approach of their work, co-curation and future plans being developed at the museum. Jenny also plays a central role in PHM’s work as a campaigning and activist museum, which she can talk about.
Aine Graven, Head of Development, People’s History Museum
Aine is the project lead on all of the capital development works that will be taking place in 2023 to make PHM more accessible. She can talk about this project in more detail and also the work that she does with supporters, including the Radical Circle.
Antonia Canal, Programme & Engagement Manager, People’s History Museum
Antonia can share more details on the different elements that have led to PHM being recognised as a Museum of Sanctuary, including the approach internally, and the work undertaken with communities.
Mark Wilson, Exhibitions Officer, People’s History Museum
Mark’s guidance and experience in the development of the processes and practices that went into the planning and preparation for Nothing About Us Without Us was invaluable. Mark can share insights about this and how PHM worked alongside a team of Community Curators to bring the exhibition to life.