People’s History Museum (PHM) is urgently seeking donations to support its contemporary collecting work as the museum responds to the unprecedented events of 2020 against a challenging backdrop for the cultural sector.

The last few months represent important chapters in the history of people taking action which, as the national museum of democracy, it wants to ensure it can reflect in its collections.  However, to do all of the contemporary collecting work that it believes is necessary, it is asking people to back its dedicated fundraiser; Collective Action.

PHM’s collections tell of the struggle for universal suffrage, votes for women, workers’ rights, the formation of a national healthcare service (NHS), equality for all – and much more. Contemporary collecting contributes a huge amount in how these stories continue to be explored and told. The museum’s plans for contemporary collecting in 2020 have escalated significantly with the history making events that have unfolded in this year; so too have the financial challenges that are being confronted as a consequence of Covid-19.

Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum says, “There is such a huge amount happening at the moment that we want people now and in the future to be able to learn from, but we also face the reality of the financial pressures caused by Covid-19 with the museum’s income and resources considerably affected. We want to be able to radically step up our contemporary collecting in a year that will be looked back upon as a historical milestone for the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact of Covid-19, and PHM needs your help to do this. We are challenged by the present, but very much have our focus and energy set to the future and what we can collectively achieve.”

In a pre-Covid world, People’s History Museum’s contemporary collecting was focused on migration, disabled people’s rights and environmental activism, serving to reflect its current and upcoming programme themes.

With the unprecedented impact of events in 2020, in particular the Black Lives Matter movement and Covid-19, the museum must respond by increasing the level of contemporary collecting it carries out to ensure it is doing as much as it can to champion and collect ideas worth fighting for.

The growing contemporary collection already features items inspired by the museum’s 2019 headline theme of protest, which were gathered through the creation of the Protest Lab; an innovative gallery space at the museum to which people submitted items representing their campaigns of protest. Also featured are Fridays for Future and the story of Brexit; from pre-referendum campaigning to demonstrations both for and against Brexit that have followed.

Sam Jenkins, Collections Officer at People’s History Museum, says, “Contemporary collecting is incredibly important to us, as a museum that is as much about the present and future of democracy, as it is about stories from the past.  Our contemporary collecting programme helps us to fill gaps in our current collections, including the stories of those historically underrepresented by museums.”

Help make history

People’s History Museum urgently needs your help to capture the events of these times through contemporary collecting, to digitise and share these collections, and to plan future work with communities that draws influence from what’s happened.  To directly support these efforts a dedicated campaign has been established, Collective Action, to which you can support here:

To support the ongoing work of the national museum of democracy and all that it does to educate, inspire, encourage and engage people with the power of democracy you can also Join the Radicals, sponsoring a Radical of your choice or becoming a Supporter from as little as £2.50 a month:



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here