Black Radical History

The museum is delighted to continue to work with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to host a series of courses in autumn 2016. You can find out more about the Black Radical History course in our guest blog from WEA tutor Mark Krantz, who is leading the course.


For Black History Month, a course to explore how Black radicals have made history. From opposition to slavery and the battle for the vote, to the fight against racism and Islamophobia, and the question of supporting refugees today. The course includes a presentation from Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and a visit to the PHM’s archives and galleries.

The uprising of slaves on the sugar island of Saint-Domingue began in 1791 and lasted for 13 years. A slave army led by Toussaint-Louverture defeated the professional armies sent to crush the revolt. Spain, France and Britain were defeated and the slaves won their freedom in the country known today as Haiti.

William Cuffay was a Chartist leader at the forefront of the struggle to win the vote in Britain. Cuffay was the son of a former slave, he led strikes, spoke at meetings, and led protests of mainly white workers across the country.

When Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War, 30 former slaves who had escaped to Britain spoke at meetings in the Manchester area. They played a crucial role in winning workers to support the union struggle that defeated the army of the slave holding states of the Southern Confederacy.

Too often the role of black people in the struggles for their own liberation is omitted from history. This course places black radicals at the centre of historical change, exploring the history and politics of race, and strategies for fighting racism.


This course will cover

  • Opposition to slavery, and the American Civil War
  • William Cuffay and the fight for the vote
  • Racism and anti racism from the 1970s until today
  • Rebel women from Farhat Khan, and Lydia Besong, to Manjeet Kaur and Aderonke Apata
  • The challenge of Islamophobia, stereotyping, and the Prevent agenda

Suitable for people aged 19 years and over

Course runs Friday 7 October to Friday 4 November 2016

1.00pm – 3.30pm

Cost £40.30 or free to those in receipt of means tested benefits

Booking Requirements: Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or booking online via WEA’s website. Please quote course ref C3839448

*Please note this is a five week course, attendees are required to book onto all five weeks of the course*


Zombie Capitalism and its discontents: The economics and politics of austerity

The museum is delighted to continue to work with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to host a series of courses in autumn 2016. You can find out more about the Zombie Capitalism and its discontents course in our guest blog from WEA tutor Mark Krantz, who is leading the course.

26-september-3-october-zombie-capitalism-and-its-discontents-the-economics-and-politics-of-austerity-wea-course-peoples-history-museum-photograph-mark-krantzSince the economic crash of 2008 austerity has been imposed on the people by politicians and bankers.  Today the need for austerity is being challenged.  This course will examine various explanations of economic crises, as well as the impact of austerity on people and politics today.

Faced with the financial crisis that began in 2007, some commentators talked of the dangers of ‘zombie banks’.  Too many financial institutions had lent money they did not have, to people who could never pay them back.  This led to the ‘banking crisis’.  As the banks got bailed out, their debts were taken over by nation states, which in order to balance their books, brought in harsh cuts and an economic policy of austerity.  With no signs of an end to the economic crisis, increasingly people are challenging the assumption that austerity is necessary.  Some economists are predicting even more economic uncertainty, others a long recession or even another crash.

This course will study:

  • Previous economic crises, and the crisis today
  • The impact of austerity on the people and on politics
  • We will consider competing economic theories; from Neoliberalism to Keynesianism, Marxism to Corbynomics, as well as current theories of economic inequality
  • Look at current protest movements, the political and electoral consequences of austerity, as well as alternative economic futures.

Suitable for people aged 19 years and over

Course runs Mon 26 September to Mon 5 December (half term break on Mon 24 October), 1.00pm – 3.00pm

Cost £65.10 or free to those in receipt of means tested benefits

Booking Requirements: Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or booking online via WEA’s website. Please quote course ref C3839453

*Please note this is a ten week course, attendees are required to book onto all ten weeks of the course*


The Fabric of Protest Monthly Workshop

Artist Helen Mather has been working with the Learning Team at the museum to run textile workshops that explore and respond to collections and displays. Following the success of these workshops, Helen will be running a monthly The Fabric of Protest workshop where participants can create their own piece of protest art that reflects the issues that are important to them.

Starting this Friday 15 April, Helen will be asking participants to the use a range of protest materials, including ribbons, rosettes, patches, flags and badges, to contribute to an art piece using their slogan for change. Participants will produce individual pieces that will combine to create a collaborative installation that will be displayed in the museum. Participants can attend an individual workshop or join us on a regular basis to shape how the installation develops. Groups can book onto these sessions by contacting Lisa Gillen on 0161 838 9190 or emailing

You can find more about the previous fabric workshops Helen has held at the museum on her tumblr blog.

Or you can visit the museum to see the installation from The Fabric of Protest workshops Helen recently held for International Women’s Day; this is on display until the end of April 2016.  In these workshops participants created their slogans of change for women today.

The Fabric of Protest workshops will run on Fri 15 April, Fri 13 May, Sat 18 June, Fri 15 July & Sat 20 August, 1.30-3.30pm. You can book onto these via Eventbrite or by calling the museum on 0161 838 9190.

Money Matters?

A-Level Economic students from Xaverian College took part in Money Matters? Patchwork quilt workshop on Friday 13 November 2015.  Most of the group had not visited the museum before so it was fantastic opportunity to learn more about the museum and explore and discuss our current changing exhibition Show Me the Money: The image of Finance from 1700 to the present. The group had a tour of the exhibition with our Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Chris Burgess and then took part in patchwork quilt workshop with artist Helen Mather. The group led a fascinating discussion about how they valued money, how the market was visualised, what the market and finance means to them and its meaning in the world today. You can find out more from the students themselves in the blog below.  Another group of Economics students from Xaverian took part in another Money Matters workshop later in December.

Show Me the Money will be on display until Sunday 24 January 2016.  We are working with a range of groups to create their own patchwork pieces in response to themes explored in the exhibition. Each piece represents a collection of voices, as a whole it is a community of people brought together by stitch. The patchwork pieces will be on display in the museum until Sunday 24 January 2016.  

A Level Economic students were invited into the People’s History Museum for a guided tour of the Show Me the Money: The image of Finance from 1700 to the present exhibition.  This exhibition attempts to question ‘what is money’ and the value we place and trust in it.

This exhibition asks: what does ‘the market’ look like? What does money really stand for?  How can the abstractions of high finance be made visible?  Who is finance for?  All money is a matter of belief and if that belief is shattered then a financial crisis will inevitable occur.  The exhibition charts how the financial world has been imagined in art, illustration, photography and other visual media over the last three centuries in Britain and the United States.Show-me-the-money-(3)

A2 Economics student Nomsa Mwimbi said, “The ‘Show me the Money’ exhibition combined philosophy, politics and economics so seamlessly that it required anyone viewing it to think deeply. History never looked so good.”

Show-me-the-money-(1)Hinda Ismail said, “I really enjoyed how money was illustrated in an artistic way since normally money is seen as just numbers and figures and not everyone really understands the impact it has, not only on our lives but to the change in society.”

Sumer Bhatti said, “The trip was a very educational experience. I never really thought about the concept of money or money in general, I just spent it whenever I got it. However, this trip taught me some fascinating elements about finance and money. For example, the digital version of the stock markets was a fun way to show the fluctuation in stocks.”Show-me-the-money-(5)

After the tour the students then attended a workshop to create their image of money in today’s world. They worked with an artist, Helen Mather, who quizzed them and debated with them about what the role of money meant to them individually. Each student then worked on an image and designed a piece of a patchwork quilt which at the end was stitched together to create a full patchwork quilt. Show-me-the-money-(6)This patchwork will now be on display at the museum for all to see in the future!

Break the Vault!

A guest blog by artist Pui Lee about last week’s Break the Vault! family friendly workshop

Well, hello again to everyone! It’s October half term and I was delighted to be back again at the People’s History Museum to deliver another fun-filled art workshop for you all inspired by the Show Me the Money exhibition.

Break the Vault  People's History Museum 28.10.15 (16)Wednesday’s family friendly session was called, Break the Vault! and all the participants got the opportunity to create their own fabulous 3D cardboard bank vault sculpture to take home with them! The children learned about what a bank vault/safe was and they were then asked to think about what things they would personally want to keep safe – and thus, thinking about the idea of value. This could be an actual object, an abstract idea or even a person or animal! They then had to make this “thing” to put inside their vault. This could be done as a 3D response using recycled materials or be a 2D hand-drawn response.

Break the Vault  People's History Museum 28.10.15 (21)As always, I brought along an example that I made earlier and in my vault, I put a big red heart. 🙂 It was great to see all the families discussing the ideas and working on a creative project together. There were definitely a lot of fantastic vaults produced today and it was interesting to see what went into them: a favourite family photograph, a black and white dog, a football, a teddy bear and a mini love-heart, to name just a few! Some of the children also said they would also be using the vault to store some of their special keepsakes when they get home. – Now that’s what I call practical art! :-p One grandparent offered this feedback at the end, “Superb activity and the kids obviously enjoyed it – you could tell! They wanted to stay until the end to make it.” Meanwhile, another parent commented, “This is different. – We’ve never done anything like this before! It sounds really fun and we get to see the show too!”

The participants also got the opportunity this afternoon to respond to my, All the Money in the World installation, which began at the end of July this year! I had a quick look at it before I left today and gosh, it has grown even bigger since I last saw it! Initially inspired by Simon Robert’s text installation, Credit Crunch Lexicon, my participatory piece here explores the idea of wealth and value, allowing members of the public to consider their place in the world today. It was great to see museum visitors of all ages engage with the piece and it crucially stimulated relevant conversation and debate, which is what I had hoped for. The piece will continue to be on show until Sunday 24 January 2016 when the exhibition closes, so please do have a look and offer your thoughts on it too!

Refugees Make a Greater Manchester

A guest blog by Ben Knight a social work student on placement on the Wellbeing project at Refugee Action.

Ben worked with the arts drop-in group at Refugee Action to create a banner with positive messages about refugees and asylum seekers in Manchester.

As the collection at the People’s History Museum demonstrates – the making and displaying of banners has always been present at protests and marches. They are an essential way for the uncounted or underrepresented to make their voices heard loud and clear.

Refugee Action Banner- Aslyum Seekers Are Welcome HereFor the weekly arts drop-in at Refugee Action we wanted to create some banners that are inspired by the rich tradition of banner making on display at the People’s History Museum. Many of the participants in the group have experience organising protests around asylum issues such as the ‘Shut Down Yarlswood Detention Centre’ campaign and we wanted to channel this energy into creating some positive messages about refugees and asylum seekers in Manchester.

During the designing of our banners the educational resources made available by the People’s History Museum were invaluable. These resources included some symbols that have appeared on protest banners throughout history, including images of unity, diversity and collective action. The sessions resulted in two banners, one based around the phrase ‘Refugees Make A Greater Manchester’ and an ‘Asylum Seekers Welcome Here’ banner. Both banners are on display in our office at Canada House, and the latter banner was used by Manchester University students at a recent pop-up campaign to raise awareness of asylum issues on the streets of Manchester.

Refugee Action Banner- Aslyum Seekers Are Welcome Here at standOf our art-sessions, regular participant Bisham Dass says, that the art-sessions ‘aimed to provide a means for stress relief and emotional healing for asylum seekers and refugees who have been victims of abuse and hardship, and are in need of a mental sanctuary’.

The banner making session was a stimulating and thought provoking activity and we’re all pleased that the banners could be used in a public campaign.

If you would like to find out more about Banner Making workshops at People’s History Museum please contact the Learning Team.

Refugee Action are one of our Parliament Week partners.  Find out about our programme of events inspiring you to change your future.

Creative Currency Casino!

Artist Pui Lee’s final blog about her fantastic programme of Summer Family Friendly events.

Well, there was definitely a lot of money floating about as my summer project came to an end at the People’s History Museum 😀

Creative Currency Casino @ People's History Museum 26.08.15  (7)The final event was, of course, my much anticipated Creative Currency Casino event, where museum visitors were invited to try their luck on various games of chance to win some truly fabulous prizes to take home with them! Admission was free and all the participants enthusiastically drew their own banknotes to spend at the casino. There were a lot of brilliant designs created and I even noticed some very speedy mass-production methods being used during the afternoon. After all, the more banknotes you had, the more plays you had and so, your chances of winning increased – potentially!

There was something for everyone: whether it was the Fast ‘n’ Furious Card Games, “Stuck in the Mud!” Dice Games, the “Show Me the Money BINGO!” and the ever popular “Human Fruit-Machine” (which, from looking at the takings at the end of the day, was the most played game of the afternoon!). It was fantastic to see people of all ages taking part – showing that art is not only for the young ones to enjoy but for grown-ups too!  Participants commented that the workshop was very “interactive” and “fun to play”! There were certainly lots of smiling faces and it was wonderful to see all the excitement over the games! All players also received a special 28PUI currency banknote to take home with them as a memento of the day!

It is also worth mentioning that all the hand-drawn banknotes from the workshop, giant printed and collaged banknotes, as well as my example pieces from the previous summer workshops are display at the museum for all to see, so do come down to have look!

Creative Currency Casino @ People's History Museum 26.08.15  (42)Overall, it has been a wonderful 5 weeks and I have enjoyed every minute of it! 🙂 It has been great to deliver this art project to coincide with the Show Me the Money exhibition. After all, money plays such huge part in our everyday lives and yet it is often regarded as being a bit of a forbidden subject. We are often reluctant to talk about it and although it is often perceived as being a grown-ups’ subject, I think it is worth engaging children and young people with it too. This has been a really fun and educational project, which explores the theme of money and finance in terms of how we use it, the exchanges that we make and its perceived value. …Thank you to everyone who has taken part in it and/or supported it in some way!

The Creative Currency Casino! project is now finished but there is still a legacy of participation opportunities still available. For example, my All the Money in the World (2015) installation will still remain in the Show Me the Money exhibition space for visitors to add their responses to. Likewise, I will be returning to the museum during the next half term on Wed 28 October 2015 to deliver my Break the Vault drop-in family friendly art workshop, so I hope to see you all there for that! But until then, it’s good bye for now and remember …”everyone’s a winner!!!” 😀