People’s History Museum

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Also known as the ‘national museum of democracy’, the People’s History Museum is located on the edge of Spinningfields in the Left Bank area of Manchester. It carries the motto ‘there have always been ideas worth fighting for’.

The People’s History Museum is a public access museum, with free entry and open seven days a week. It hosts a number of exhibitions, events, educational talks and visiting speakers.

The museum has its beginnings in the 1980s, when Manchester City Council – with help of the wider authorities and the TUC – rescued much of the collection from the National Museum of Labour History in London (founded 1975), which was under threat at the time.

The collection of labour material was brought to Manchester where the museum opened originally on Princess Street in 1990 – in the same building where the first historic meeting of the TUC took place.

In 1994, much of the museum moved to larger premises – now the current location on the edge of Spinningfields also known as the ‘Pump House’. This allowed for a growth of exhibition spaces, galleries, learning programmes and following a £12.5 million investment, further expansion in 2010.

The People’s History Museum has hosted a number of culturally-recognised events and exhibitions, which have included ‘Demon Drink? Temperance and the Working Class’, celebrations for International Women’s Day, and the Ideas Worth Fighting For exhibition. They have a regular ‘Object of the Month’ feature.

The museum has in its collection a historically-valuable Manchester suffragette banner. The slogan reads ‘Manchester First in the Fight’ and was used when suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst spoke at the 19 July 1908 Heaton Park rally.  

In 2017, the museum hosted the popular Never Going Underground: The Fight for LGBT+ Rights exhibition – opened with a speech by Ian McKellen. It also hosted a number of late-night events which included spoken-word specials like Queer Story Showcase.