People’s History Museum Work Experience

Anna Stephen, a student on work placement, tells us about her time at PHM in this guest post

IMG_7632My favourite object in the museum is the docker’s pineapple in his lunch box. It shows how ordinary the worker’s diet of the time was (a massive pie!), and that a piece of fruit we now consider part of our regular shop was now available for ordinary people- but still thought of as an exotic and exciting treat, not the commonplace object we know of today. Plus it is big and plastic and looks dangerous.
As part of my work experience placement at the People’s History Museum, I’ve done dribs and drabs of all sorts of interesting work to give a full perspective IMG_7631on employment opportunities at the museum. I’ve made dizzying use of the spinny chairs taking care of reception, and even been taught how to wield a gun by the front-of-house staff (a price-tag gun, that is)!
I’ve sat in on incredible schools living history performances- historical figures such as suffragette Hannah Mitchell and chartist William Cuffay are portrayed with great élan by professional actors who reenergise history, imbuing it with a sense of dynamism and urgency as they show children the perspective of someone actually living at the time. There’s also a Q&A session with the historical figures afterwards, so you can ask all the questions you would never be able to without a time machine!

I’ve also designed a superhero postcard for children to design their own inspiring figure and describe what they’d do to change the world.



IMG_3385IMG_3387This month we’ve been working on some programming that explores the often complicated relationship between fashion and protest.  We’ve got an exciting new pop-up exhibition in the foyer and The Left Bank cafe bar from Labour Behind the Label called Made in Cambodia and you can sample life as a garment worker at their Race for a Living Wage: educational exploitation for all the family! event this Sunday.   The exhibition details the lives of Cambodian garment workers producing sportswear goods in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics. The photography exhibition follows one day in the lives of a group of women garment workers who work in the Shen Zhou garment factory in Phnom Penh, making products for Adidas’s 2012 Olympics range. Their stories speak of poverty pay, excessive working hours, job insecurity and lack of union rights. Many work 11 hour days and survive on a basic wage of £39 a month, forced to share small rooms in factory-owned apartment blocks. The photos are taken by Will Baxter.

IMG_3398Our Learning Officer, Lisa Gillen, shares the story of her personal fashion/protest object:

I was given the protest clothing ticket by a friend during the summer of 2012. She was distributing these to ask people to get involved in a protest against the poor wages paid to people involved in making adidas goods in other countries.

Adidas was one company receiving a lot of coverage for the Olympics that summer.  The protest involved putting the protest tickets in stores that sold adidas goods. I really liked how the protest was a simple idea, but also quite effective in raising awareness of the issue with people who may be buying adidas goods.  I keep this pinned by my desk to remind me of the creative and inventive ways that people can protest and how methods of protest can comes in many different forms.

Staff Top Picks: Badges and stickers in the Citizens section

In the second of our ‘Staff Top Picks’ series, PHM Marketing and Development Officer, Daisy Nicholson, explains why the badges and stickers in the Citizens section of Gallery Two are her most-loved objects in our collection. What’s your favourite item in the museum? Tell us on Twitter using #phmtop10.

Daisy Nicholson (5)

My favourite object(s) / bit of the museum are the badges/stickers in Citizens (pink) section – having grown up in the 80s and spent lots of time as a child on marches & demos etc.(very politically active dad!), I loved collecting related badges and stickers, though at the time didn’t appreciate the various campaigns’ significance. Seeing such collections on the galleries is a nice trip down memory lane, but more importantly reflects the importance of preserving this aspect of history.

Staff Top Picks: A Suffragette’s Home

In the first of our ‘Staff Top Picks’ series, PHM Director Katy Archer tells us why the poster A Suffragette’s Home is her most-loved object in our collection. What’s your favourite item in the museum? Tell us on Twitter using #phmtop10.

Katy Archer (4)

One of my favourite objects is the poster – A Suffragette’s Home, produced by the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage around 1910. The poster appealed to the working man who has returned home from work to find his hungry children in an untidy house.

The poster stands out to me for a number of reasons. Its style, aesthetic quality and colour palette are striking and part of the iconic design of many posters of this era. The artist responsible for this poster was John Hassell who also designed the famous holiday poster, Skegness is So Bracing.

I also think it’s interesting to see a poster arguing AGAINST something that can now sometimes be taken for granted. Votes for Women is such an important part of the People’s History Museum and we have a fantastic collection of objects representing this story, as well as other organisations in Manchester such as the Pankhurst Centre who are key to telling the story of Women’s Suffrage.

PHM is a champion for the Wonder Women campaign commemorating how much will have been achieved in the 100 years from 1918 (when women first won the (partial) right to vote) to 2018. 1918 was the culmination of a long, hard struggle, and although we’ve come a long way, there is still much work to be done. With events, debate, music, art and more, Wonder Women is a five-year project that asks how far we’ve come – and how far we have yet to go.

So for me this poster sums up that struggle – it shows how women had to make sacrifices for a cause that they believed in – and it shows that there have always been (and continue to be) ideas worth fighting for!

It also reminds me that working towards a bigger goal and fighting for something you believe in is more important than keeping a tidy home – which is good to see as the poster also reminds me a little bit of my house when I get home from a day working at PHM!