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People’s History Museum opens community-led exhibition

1 April 2019

Nothing About Us Without Us

People’s History Museum opens community-led exhibition

Left to right - Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition, National League of the Blind & Disabled march, 1920 photo © WCML & DPAC protest, Conservative Party Conference, 14 Sept 2017 © People's History Museum

On Friday 5 April an exhibition will open at People’s History Museum (PHM) that looks at the past, present and future of disabled activism.  Nothing About Us Without Us has been co-produced with groups, campaigners and individuals to highlight the story of disabled people’s activism and reflect on how this has been represented in history.

The exhibition is one of a series of community exhibitions that responds to the theme of protest; which is the focus of the museum’s programme throughout 2019.  Following an open call for submissions, Nothing About Us Without Us is the result of People’s History Museum working with organisations, individuals and collectives including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), Pure Art Studio, Quiet Riot and Venture Arts.

The exhibition begins with a timeline mapping how disabled people’s organisations have campaigned for equality since the late 1800s.  The timeline is based on the work of Linda Marsh and Brian Hilton from the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), and includes key milestones such as the recognition of British Sign Language as an official language in 2003 and the emergence of neurodiversity as a concept in 1996.

Oral recordings by disabled activists provide an insight into their experiences from protesting on the streets to campaigning from their living rooms.

This is also a very visual exhibition with banners, placards and other materials that have played an important role in campaigns led by disabled activists such as the Save the Independent Living Fund banner, which has been used on multiple protests across Britain.  A large Not Dead Yet banner highlights how disabled people have protested against assisted suicide, believing this to be an attempt to legitimise the killing of terminally ill and disabled people.

The exhibition also includes two t-shirts that belonged to leading disability rights campaigner Lorraine Gradwell (1953 – 2017), who since the 1980s was at the forefront of campaigns at a national level, including her role in founding GMCDP and Breakthrough UK.

Nothing About Us Without Us also features very current campaigns.  The Autistic Pride Flag by Joseph Redford, tells of the autistic rights movement and the campaign for greater acceptance of autistic behaviours.  It also challenges those organisations that look to cure autism or use intervention therapies to modify behaviour.

Mark Wilson, Exhibitions Officer for People’s History Museum, says, “Our programme of community exhibitions is one of the most important ways in which we highlight the significance of protest and the campaigns that people and communities are driving forward to achieve change.  It’s been fascinating to work collaboratively with everyone involved in Nothing About Us Without Us and the result is a really powerful exhibition.”

Throughout 2019 there is a series of community exhibitions at People’s History Museum that represent different stories and perspectives on the past, present and future of protest.  The Most Radical Street in Manchester? opening on 20 July 2019 will explore the history of protest spaces and contested sites in Manchester and Salford from the period leading to the Peterloo Massacre to the present day.  These sit alongside the museum’s headline exhibition for 2019, Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest (on show until 23 February 2020), whilst across the main galleries the 2019 display of historic and contemporary banners highlight key moments of protest from the museum’s world renowned collection of over 400 political and trade union banners.

People’s History Museum 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 is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its full exhibitions and events programme visit

Full details of PHM’s access information is available at and on request staff will endeavour to assist visitors if they require any additional support or resources on their visit.


A selection of images can be found here:

For further information or to arrange a visit / interviews please contact Fido PR: /

0161 832 3588

Notes to editors:

If you would like to visit the exhibition we can arrange for PHM’s Exhibition Officer,
Mark Wilson, to show you around.

Mark Wilson, Exhibitions Officer

Mark is working with all of the groups and individuals that are taking part in community exhibitions at People’s History Museum in 2019.  He is assisting and supporting with the curation of the Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

DPAC was formed by a group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on 3 October 2018 in Birmingham.  It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest.  DPAC is for everyone who believes that disabled people should have full human rights and equality.

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP)

GMCDP is a disabled people’s organisation, and is a place for disabled people to share knowledge and experiences, find information, and attend events or workshops.  GMDCP campaigns for the rights and full inclusion of disabled people in society, promotes the removal of the barriers disabled people face and challenges discrimination.

Pure Art Studio

Pure Art Studio offers a place where people with a learning disability and an interest in art can develop their skills and thrive.  With three studios across Stockport in Greater Manchester, Pure Studio support 50 artists and provide skill sharing workshops and exciting projects designed to develop talent and confidence within an encouraging and supportive environment.

Quiet Riot

Quiet Riot is not a self-help or support group in the usual sense, but they do hold common cause and give and receive support.  Quiet Riot is a collective of disabled young people and their allies.  Their common cause:

  • A desire to be heard
  • A love of language
  • A longing for connection
  • At times, a frustration with a world that is too quick and too loud
  • Having a lot to say, but not always with the space to say


Venture Arts

Venture Arts is a progressive visual arts organisation based in Hulme, Manchester.  Venture Arts work with learning disabled artists to create and show exciting new visual art.

 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 people of all ages 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, 2019 sees a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, and the programme for 2020 will be on the theme of migration and identity.  Recent 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.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow NLHF on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund.

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