What if… banners were never used as part of campaigns and demonstrations?

On Thursday 15 May, the PHM will explore alternative histories for Museums at Night. Join our hypothetical tour guides as they weave tall tales and ask you to imagine infinite possibilities of what might have been.  In a series of blog posts before the event we’ll be featuring questions so you can swot up on your hypothetical history and add your own alternatives.  On the night we’ll subvert our timeline with your suggestions. In this blog, our Director, Katy Archer asks What if… banners were never used as part of campaigns and demonstrations?

Liverpool Tinplate Workers' bannerOur museum is full of fantastic, beautiful and colourful banners. From the Liverpool Tinplate Workers banner from 1821 through to the Mansfield Labour Party Women’s Section in 1988, we are very proud and privileged to be the custodians of such an essential part of the history of the development of democracy in our country.

As the ‘home of ideas worth fighting for’ we showcase a wide range of campaigns from a wide range of organisations and groups who have fought for a cause… and who have all used banners as an effective tool and technique in their campaigns.

Our banners to me are works of art, they are full of meaning and messages. They show how people came together united by a common cause – and were, and still are, objects of great pride.

When you see each of our banners on display individually or collectively, they are not easily forgotten. They provide a lasting legacy (through the work of our amazing conservation team!) of the ideas that people have fought for… equality, democracy, peace, reform, co-operation and many more.

Banners on a marchAnd they’re still current and contemporary too – look at any images of footage of recent protests and marches and you’ll see great numbers of banners still being used today.

Brixton Bomb banner by Ed HallAnd they are still being made today as well – our recent exhibition with Ed Hall displaying the work of a contemporary banner maker still using the traditional tool and technique to give voice to current campaigns.

  • But what if… banners had never been part of the campaigning tradition?
  • Or what if… the tradition died out years ago to be replaced by digital alternatives with no ‘real’ substance?
  • What if… none of the banners in our collection had survived to be seen by our visitors today?
  • How would we know and see what people have fought for and still fight for today?
  • How would people today be connected to past campaigns in a way that creates such an emotional response? And which moves people to fight for something that they believe in today?
  • What else would have had such dramatic impact?
    • Mascots? Cheerleaders? Dancing Elephants?

Add your answers below and come along to our Museums at Night: What if…? event on Thursday 15 May, 5.00pm – 8.00pm to see our beautiful banners for yourself and have your say about what if… they never existed!?

 

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