People’s History Museum (PHM) is starting 2021 by asking its friends for urgent support with a Crowdfunder appeal that will help the national museum of democracy to continue its work in the year ahead.

Over 300 people have already pledged their support and figures including Ian McKellen, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Maxine Peake, Alfred Enoch, Mike Leigh, Tony Walsh and Melvyn Bragg are backing the campaign.

Julie Hesmondhalgh talks of People’s History Museum as being her “favourite museum in the world”, “dealing, as it does, with ordinary people and our struggles”.  Ian McKellen describes the “amazing exhibitions” that he has seen at the museum, which he “cannot recommend too strongly”, and urges people to support PHM.

Melvyn Bragg sees PHM as “one of the most important museums in this country.  It tells the story of us – 97% of the people in this country and their fight over centuries for their rights; for democratic rights, for voting rights, for the equality of women, for trade union rights to give everyone in this country the entitlement to live their life as full as possible.”  Maxine Peake says of “one of my favourite museums in the country”, “We will only move forward in the future if we learn from our past. We need places like PHM that look after that history and preserve it for future generations.”

Like so many cultural organisations, PHM’s world was turned upside down when the Covid-19 pandemic took a hold.  With its Manchester home placed in the strictest restrictions during much of 2020, the opportunities for visitors were very limited and the museum’s revenue streams frozen for much of the year.  The team responded to the changes created by the ongoing restrictions by developing a whole new strand of activity online to ensure that the museum can keep sharing the inspiration of its collections and connecting people through the stories of ideas worth fighting for that it tells.

Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum, says, “People’s History Museum has carved out a unique role for itself in its dedication to exploring the past, present and future of British democracy and in leading the way forward in co-creation, community engagement and inclusivity.  We find ourselves in this challenging situation at a time when we feel that the conversations, discussions and work that we carry out are more relevant than ever.  Reflective of this is the contemporary collecting that we’ve carried out over the last 12 months, with Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and Brexit some of the key issues that the museum’s Collections Team have been focusing on.

“We hope that the support of our friends will carry us through the difficult months that lie in front of us and that we can continue to stride forwards with our groundbreaking work.  We also want to thank those funders who have given us support during the pandemic; Arts Council England, Granada Foundation, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Manchester City Council, The Art Fund, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and others.”

People’s History Museum has a Crowdfunder target of £25,000, which it must achieve by Tuesday 26 January 2021 (11.00am).  All of the money raised will go towards alleviating the income shortfall felt by the museum; although outgoings have been dramatically reduced, it still costs £903 per day to maintain an online presence, look after the collection and take care of the historic listed building that makes up part of the museum site.

You can add your support here:  Rewards range from a newly added virtual tour experience for a donation of £25, to the chance to become a Radical Supporter for a pledge of £1,000.

At present the doors of PHM are closed due to the national lockdown, however, online activities continue for radicals of all ages:  Online orders are available from PHM shop for unique items inspired by the PHM’s collection, where all purchases support the museum.  You can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to receive PHM’s e-newsletter, subscribing to the blog, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.


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