The museum is fully accessible wherever possible, and we are committed to making your visit as accessible as possible. If you have queries or require any assistance please contact the museum in advance of your visit on 0161 838 9190
This information does not contain personal opinions as to PHM's suitability for those with access needs, but aims to accurately describe the facilities and services that we offer to all of our visitors
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 is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.
The museum is a member of the Visit England Quality Assurance scheme and is accessed annually.
Infrared hearing loop facilities are available throughout the building (Info Desk, Engine Hall, Coal Store Conference Room, Meeting Room, Mini Theatre in Main Gallery One, Labour History Archive & Study Centre and The Left Bank cafe bar). If you are attending a public event or Venue Hire event and need to use the hearing loop, please inform a member of staff in advance. Kindly supported by Manchester City Council Disabled Access Grant Scheme.
The main galleries are designed to provide a range of sensory experiences, including several different audio, visual and touch elements.
Everything a visitor should need to know is condensed into one handy visitor map with pictures of the floors, the museum galleries and don’t miss.
The visitor map is also available from the Info Desk.
The museum is located on the corner of Left Bank and Bridge Street in the Spinningfields area of Manchester city centre.
Information on getting to the museum can be found on the Visit page of this website. The museum does not offer a collection service.
The museum is situated on a main road in the city centre on a public transport route.
You can download our Social Story to familiarise yourself with the museum building ahead of your visit.
The museum’s usual quieter visiting times are: Monday to Friday, 3.00pm – 5.00pm / Saturday and Sunday, 10.00am – 12.00pm.
Visitors with disabilities requiring information on areas such as equipment hire, wheelchair repair, Shopmobility, or RADAR toilets will be referred to Disability Equality NW for advice and guidance. Staff are willing to use the telephone or internet to help with these enquiries.
The museum has large print text for the main galleries and Changing Exhibition Gallery.
Tactile maps for further assistance in navigating the galleries are available from the Info Desk which we are also happy to send out in advance of your visit to the museum. To arrange this, please call 0161 838 9190.
Outside the museum is drop off only, opposite the main entrance on Left Bank. There are dropped kerbs on the streets to provide access to the museum.
The streets surrounding the museum are in good condition, they are paved and level with a gradual increase to the main entrance to the museum on Left Bank, from the main road outside the museum, Bridge Street.
The ramp to the museum has a handrail to the left hand side. There are also six steps to the left hand side of the main entrance, with a handrail on either side.
There is street lighting on Left Bank, and the reception area and the cafe are really brightly lit to make it easy to see the museum from outside.
The main entrance has a revolving glass door, and an automatic glass door which opens outward. We recommend disabled access through the automatic door.
The clear door opening width for the automatic glass door is approximately 44 inches (1,118 mm)
There is alternative entrance through The Left Bank cafe bar, which has level access from Bridge Street. There are also four steps to The Left Bank cafe bar entrance, with handrails on both sides.
Main entrance, reception area and Info Desk
The main entrance leads directly to the reception area and Info Desk on the ground floor and is level throughout.
Seating is available in this area in the Processional Way, to the right of the Info Desk. There are tables, benches and stools, which can easily be moved by staff to accommodate wheelchair users or pushchairs.
The floor surface is an anti-slip vinyl resin floor.
The main reception area is well lit, with fluorescent tube lighting in the Processional Way, ceiling spotlights on reception, and LED strip lighting in the shop, which is to the left of the Info Desk.
The Info Desk has a low counter area suitable for wheelchair users.
The Info Desk is open and there is no glass between staff and visitors.
Lockers are located on the lower ground floor of the museum. They require a £1 coin to operate which is refundable when you retrieve your belongings.
A hearing loop system is installed at the Info Desk.
Magnifying glasses, pens and paper are available from the Info Desk. We offer magnifier and colour overlay filters in our Changing Exhibition Gallery to assist visitors with reading exhibition labels.
There is also free wheelchair hire and plug-in points in the Processional Way for mobility scooters and battery operated wheelchairs.
If you require a quiet space during your visit ask any member of staff.
Gallery and exhibitions displays
Interpretation is mostly via text panels. We offer guided tours and a range of sessions for groups. We use actors for our Living History performances in the Mini Theatre space in Main Gallery One, as part of our public programme of events and for group visits. Each gallery has a combination of hands-on audio, video and computer interactive touchscreens (which are subtitled and/or displayed visually).
All Learning sessions are adaptable to meet support needs.
Interpretation boards are in large print and we provide magnifying glasses for further assistance. Interpretation boards include large print text, pictures and illustrations. We use the Ekarv method for our labels and interpretation boards which makes the text more readable.
There is background music and sounds in all of the galleries. In the Changing Exhibition Gallery there are occasionally TVs playing short films. In the main galleries there are interactive parts of the displays, such as the Speakers’ Corners, the touchscreens, and various touch elements which make sounds when you interact with them, for example there is a cupboard door in Hannah Mitchell’s kitchen which plays audio when you open it. Background noises are turned off for Living History performances and other events where necessary.
No flashing lights are used in the main galleries. For changing exhibitions the museum will provide signage and warning should there be any flashing lights used.
The clear door opening widths to the Engine Hall, Changing Exhibition Gallery and main galleries are all approximately 64 inches (1,626 mm). The doors are the appropriate weight and within the required range but Visitor Services Assistants will be happy to help open them.
There are various types of seating provided throughout the main galleries and Changing Exhibition Gallery.
The Changing Exhibition Gallery has a wood floor surface, and the main galleries have short pile carpets.
The Changing Exhibition Gallery displays are evenly lit by overhead LED spotlights.
The main galleries currently use both halogen spotlights and LED spotlights. Lighting in the main galleries is at a low level to protect paintings and banners.
There is lift access to all floors. All lifts in the museum are wheelchair accessible and the main lift near the reception area also has audio announcements.
Gendered toilets are located on the ground floor next to the reception area, which include accessible facilities. There are also additional gendered toilets downstairs under the Engine Hall but there is no disabled access to these.
Gender neutral toilets which are also accessible are located in the Engine Hall on the ground floor, on the lower ground floor, and off Main Gallery Two on the second floor of the museum. All of these toilets are accessible by lift with no steps or ramps.
Wheelchair accessible baby changing facilities are available in the ground floor toilets and second floor toilets.
There is Braille on the toilet doors to provide further assistance.
The doorway of the accessible toilets next to the reception area on the ground floor is approximately 39 inches (991 mm) wide. The lower ground, Engine Hall, and second floor accessible toilets all have similar measurements.
There is clear space to the right hand side of the accessible toilets next to the reception area, which is approximately 29 inches (737 mm). The lower ground, Engine Hall, and second floor accessible toilets all have similar measurements.
The height of the accessible toilets next to the reception area is approximately 16 inches (406 mm). The lower ground, Engine Hall, and second floor accessible toilets all have similar measurements.
There are two vertical grab rails on either side of the sink in the accessible toilets next to the reception area. There is one vertical rail next to the toilet which can be lowered for extra assistance, one horizontal rail next to the toilet and one horizontal handrail on the door. The Engine Hall accessible toilet has the same amount of handrails. The lower ground and second floor accessible toilets all have the same amount of handrails except they do not have handrails on the door.
The fire alarm has sounders and flashing lights.
All accessible toilets have red alarm cords in case of emergency.
All toilets are brightly lit with ceiling spotlights and include emergency lighting.
All toilets have non-slip floor surfaces, either tile or vinyl.
All toilets have lever taps.
The Left Bank cafe bar is situated directly opposite the Info Desk and it has level access from the main entrance.
The clear door opening width from the museum into the cafe is approximately 72 inches (1,829 mm).
The cafe is level throughout, with large spaces between seats and fixtures for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
There is a mix of seating provided. The height of the regular tables is approximately 29 inches (737 mm) and the chairs have no arms. There are also sofas and low tables, large tables for groups, high tables, stools and outdoor seating.
The cafe is well lit and uses a mix of ceiling spotlights, fluorescent tube lighting and big ceiling lamps.
The floor surface is non-slip black vinyl resin.
The hot food on offer at the cafe varies and caters to different dietary needs. There are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free options available. There is also a children’s menu available. Cafe staff have knowledge of different dietary needs and can advise visitors regarding allergens.
The service in the cafe is a mix of table service and self service. Soups and hotpots and some refrigerated drinks and sandwiches are self service, and all other food is table service.
There are menus on clipboards available to pick up, and information is also written on the blackboard wall behind the counter, and on a wall mounted roll of paper advertising specials. Staff are willing to provide any extra information and read out the menu for further assistance.
The tables are wooden and the crockery is white.
There is occasionally background music in this area.
The nearest toilets are the ground floor toilets next to the reception area which are a short distance from the cafe, and include accessible facilities and baby changing facilities.
The museum shop is within the reception area, to the left of the main entrance to the museum.
There is level access throughout the shop and large spaces between fixtures for a wheelchair or pushchair.
There is a low counter at the Info Desk.
The displays are built into the walls and there is open access to the shelves. The shelves are wooden, with cupboards at the bottom and a varied amount of shelves on each unit. There are no more than three shelves on each shelving unit.
There are also stand alone shop display units within the reception area, with space between them for a wheelchair or pushchair.
There is no background music in this area.
The hearing loop at the Info Desk services this area.
Visitor Services Assistants are happy to give assistance if required.
All staff undertake equality and diversity training which includes aspects of disability awareness.
There are visual and audio alarms present in the case of emergency or evacuation. As part of the museum’s Health and Safety policy, staff are trained to assist with evacuation of the building in case of an emergency. The museum has various refuge points on each level.
Guide dogs are welcome.
General signage is large print black vinyl lettering on white walls. There is large print black vinyl lettering on a yellow background to indicate which floor you are on. Large print yellow vinyl signage on the staircase directs the way to the main galleries.
The Welcome Wall in the Processional Way to the right of the Info Desk uses a mix of text and images to show highlights of the museum’s collection and to advertise upcoming events.
We are always looking for feedback on how we can improve the museum’s accessibility and visitor services. If you have any comments or suggestions, please phone the museum on 0161 838 9190.