Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2022 particularly champions organisations whose achievements tell the story of museums’ creativity and resilience, and particularly focuses on those engaging the next generation of audiences in innovative ways.
For People’s History Museum, this is reflected in its work with communities and individuals; exploring hidden stories, giving space to unheard voices and nurturing authentic content.
Often co-curating its programmes, these lead on contemporary issues that challenge inequality and are approached with a vision for a fairer society where people’s voices and actions make a difference.
In 2021 PHM delivered one of its most ambitious programmes of activity, exploring Migration as its headline theme. A Community Programme Team, made up of people with lived experience of migration, were recruited to work alongside the museum’s Programme Team to develop the innovative and creative programme which was designed to challenge narratives around migration and the role migrants have played in shaping activism and rights in the UK.
A combination of family trails, a Passport Trail, artist workshops, interventions and a calendar of events all form part of the outcome. In Migration: a human story the Community Programme Team brought new stories to the museum and looked at those it already tells through the lens of migration creating impactful visitor experiences.
PHM is also a museum that encourages people to take a stand on issues, and that uses its own voice to unite with those sharing its belief in a caring community and society. In recent months it has stood together with refugees, and the international development charities, refugee groups and cultural organisations that make up the coalition, to campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill.
As the national museum of democracy, PHM’s collection features significant historic and contemporary objects, banners, posters and photographs that all help to tell of the ongoing struggle for equity and equality by workers, reformers, voters, revolutionaries and citizens. Many key moments have taken place in Manchester and visitors will see these stories in the galleries; the Peterloo Massacre, the suffragettes and the fight for LGBT+ rights amongst them.
Katy Ashton, Director at People’s History Museum, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for Museum of the Year 2022, which is such amazing recognition of the brilliant work of the whole museum team.
“I’ve always been incredibly proud of our museum and truly believe there is something very special about PHM and the work it does in collaboration with communities; celebrating people’s stories, sharing our collections, bringing people together and playing an important role as a space for social action and change.”
Bernard Donoghue, Chair of People’s History Museum, furthered: "This is a huge honour and means so much to our staff, volunteers, supporters and stakeholders. As an activist and campaigning museum we live our values and take inspiration from our collection and the stories they tell.
“We are about 'ideas worth fighting for' and that's never felt more relevant or urgent than now. We are very grateful for this recognition; it will spur us to provide more opportunities for individuals and communities to tell their stories and inspire change."
Alongside People’s History Museum the shortlist is made up of Horniman Museum and Gardens (London), Derby Museums, Museum of Making (Derby), The Story Museum (Oxford) and Tŷ Pawb (Wrexham).
The decision on the winning museum will be made by a judging panel chaired by Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman, which includes: Dame Diane Lees, Director-General, Imperial War Museums; Harold Offeh, artist and educator; Dr Janina Ramirez, cultural historian and broadcaster and Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 6 DJ and broadcaster.
The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the Design Museum in London on Thursday 14 July 2022 and will receive £100,000. The other four shortlisted museums will each receive £15,000 in recognition of their achievements.