People’s History Museum’s (PHM) new programme for 2022 and 2023 will explore the history of disabled people’s rights, activism and fight for inclusion. Everything PHM does as the national museum of democracy is guided by a belief in ideas worth fighting for and in collaborating with the communities whose stories it tells, which will be at the forefront of a bold, spirited, exciting and fun programme that will feature exhibitions, events and activities.

The announcement is made during UK Disability History Month (18 November to 18 December 2021); a reminder that the quest for rights and equality is far from over. This quest will be at the heart of PHM’s programme and its headline exhibition, Nothing About Us Without Us, which will capture the stories of this ongoing journey; past, present and future. Research into the stories and how they will be shared began in August 2021 with a team of Community Curators, who all identify as disabled people, leading the way forward. Anis Akhtar, Hannah Ross, Ruth Malkin and Alison Wilde all bring different experiences, skills and insights, and a clear vision for what they want their work as curators to achieve. The Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition, including the Community Curator posts, is being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Hannah Ross, Community Curator at People’s History Museum, says, “I am really excited to be working on this project at PHM as one of the community curators and want this exhibition to be celebratory, inclusive and intersectional. I also want it to appeal to the wider disabled community, particular younger people and also non disabled allies and audiences, so that ideas like the social model of disability become more well-known within society more generally.”

Alison Wilde, Community Curator at People’s History Museum, says, “I am thrilled to be part of Nothing About Us Without Us, as it will allow me to contribute to an exhibition which shares the value of disabled people’s lives with a wide audience, will celebrate the lives of disabled people who have built, or shared in, our community, and will reach other disabled and non-disabled people.”

The opening of Nothing About Us Without Us in July 2022 will be accompanied by the reveal of an astonishing and attention-grabbing art installation by internationally acclaimed artist Jason Wilsher-Mills who has been working in collaboration with learning disabled artists from Venture Arts in Manchester. Jason’s eye-catching and highly imaginative work is just one of the ways that he is accomplishing his mission to make disability more visible and he’ll be working with the PHM team on a range of creative projects during 2022.

Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum, says, “Our Nothing About Us Without Us programme in 2022 and 2023 will focus on the incredible history and activism that underpins the fight for disabled people’s rights. We look forward to working with communities to bring this programme to life, and sharing the stories that will be revealed by our Community Curators; with an inspirational headline exhibition and public engagement activities.”

Michael Powell, Programme Officer for People’s History Museum, says, “This project has lots of layers reflecting the depth of work that goes into our programmes. The Steering Group that are helping to develop and guide the work have been assisting PHM on various projects since 2017. With our Community Curators now immersed in the research for Nothing About Us Without Us we are starting to get the sense of something truly ground breaking that will tell the story of disabled people’s rights in a way that has never been done before.”

One of the first ways that the PHM will begin its focus on disabled people’s rights will be with the 2022 Banner Exhibition (Saturday 22 January 2022 to Sunday 8 January 2023), which will include the Nothing About Us Without Us banner. This banner was commissioned by PHM in 2015 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) as a community endeavour led by Venture Arts, and is now the inspiration for the title of its headline exhibition for 2022.

Dedicated Family Friendly activities and a Learning Programme developed by PHM’s specialist in-house team will further explore the themes emerging from Nothing About Us Without Us for different audiences. An accompanying events calendar, including a series of Radical Lates, will also feature both online and in the museum.


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