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Vote for PHM’s new digital experiences in the Digital Leaders 100 Awards

1 June 2020

Developed in partnership with Creative AR & VR Hub, Manchester Metropolitan University

New digital experience, Grunwick strike (1976-1978) © People's History Museum

Two new digital experiences at People’s History Museum (PHM) have been selected by the Digital Leaders 100 Awards as one of the top 10 Cross-Sector Digital Collaborations of the year.  These interactives use digital technology to enable visitors to the national museum of democracy to take part in experiences that help to bring to life the stories of the Match Girls’ Strike (1888) and the Grunwick strike (1976 – 1978).

A public vote will now determine which projects make it to the final DL100 list, which is published each year by the Digital Leaders Awards. Voting opens on Monday 1 June 2020 (4pm) and you can vote for People’s History Museum’s ‘History Makers’ project here: 

The new digital interactive exhibits in the main galleries of People’s History Museum have been created in partnership with Creative AR & VR Hub, Manchester Metropolitan University, with funding support from the AIM Biffa Award Programme’s History Makers Scheme.

Although 90 years apart, the Match Girls’ Strike and the Grunwick strike both represent stories of working class women fighting for rights and better conditions; creative digital approaches have produced interesting and engaging ways of exploring what took place.  Firstly, you will find yourself on the production line of the Bryant & May match factory in east London, where most of the workers were girls under the age of 15.  This was a place where low wages could get even lower if you dropped matches or went to the toilet without permission, and where exposure to phosphorous could cause a form of bone cancer, known as ‘phossy jaw’.  An arcade-style game, designed for all ages to experience, gives a snapshot of what working life for the match girls was like and an understanding of what would lead to strike action, and the leading role of social reformer Annie Besant within this.

The second experience is an augmented reality (AR) installation, also on the main galleries of the museum, which enables the visitors to investigate for themselves the story of Jayaben Desai and her role within the Grunwick strike.  Lasting for almost two years, the dispute was sparked over an issue of working conditions, but quickly spread to wider questions of institutional racism and inequality. AR technology enables a close up exploration of the artefacts from this fascinating history and to hear the voices of those involved helping to paint the picture of what happened and why the Grunwick strike is recognised as such a turning point in for race relations in the workplace.

Sarah Miguel, Head of Business Development, People’s History Museum, says “Although our doors are closed at the moment the development of our digital capabilities is central to our work as a museum, both in terms of the experiences that we offer visitors in the future and to those that want to interact with our work and our collections online.  So we are delighted that our partnership work with Manchester Metropolitan University has been acknowledged by pioneers within the digital sector as part of the Digital Leaders Awards and hope people will vote for us in the next stages.”

You can view find out more about the inspiring story of the Match Girls’ Strike, the role that Jayaben Desai played in the Grunwick strike and view films of the digital experiences at People’s History Museum here:

The winners of the Digital Leaders Awards are determined by a public vote.  This opens at 4pm on Monday 1 June and closes on Friday 14 August 2020, with the results announced on Saturday 17 October.  To make your vote visit:

You can discover more about the work behind both projects by joining Sarah Miguel (Head of Business Development at People’s History Museum) and Alasdair Swenson (Lecturer of Immersive Technology Development at Manchester Metropolitan University) for a talk about Exploring Immersive Technology on Friday 12 June as part of the Digital Leaders Virtual Summit (8 – 19 June 2020). Places for this talk can be booked here:

People’s History Museum is currently closed due to Covid-19, but you can stay in touch by visiting, signing up to the e-newsletter, subscribing to the blog, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.




For further information please contact Fido PR: / 0161 832 3588

Images and films of the interactives are available here:


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 Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University is one of the most extensive higher education centres in Europe with 38,000 students and more than 1,000 undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses. The University educates and trains large numbers of legal and business professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, health workers and creative professionals.

Manchester Metropolitan achieved the silver award in the Teaching Excellence Framework, has 85% of research impact rated world-leading and internationally excellent as judged in the REF, is the UK’s greenest university as ranked by the People and Planet sustainability league tables and is one of the country’s top 25 best employers for LGBT staff, as featured in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers ranking.

The University is in the top 200 global universities under 50 years old as ranked by the Times Higher Education and has more than 290,000 alumni living across the world, with a further 10,000 new graduates joining the community each year. Notable alumni include fashion designer Sarah Burton, actor Julie Walters, designer Thomas Heatherwick and marketing expert Jonathan Mildenhall.

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