Newest Review: ... the signs for Manchester Civil Justice Centre, which is right next door to the museum and much better signed! ***The museum*** Admission... more
History of the democratic people!
Pump House: People's History Museum (Manchester)
Member Name: HelenW
Pump House: People's History Museum (Manchester)
The People's History Museum is located in the centre of Manchester (Left Bank, Spinngingfields). For those who are unfamiliar with the centre of Manchester (as I am!), it is amazingly accessible! The MetroLink can take you into the centre. For the People's History Museum, the website advises that the closest stop is St Peter's Square. I duly got off there, however, it wasn't particularly well signed (or signed at all) until I was practically outside it! In order to find it, I actually had to load up navigation on my phone for about a 10 minute walk. On the way back, I went to Market Street station (ok, via the Arndale) and saw a lot of signs for the museum on my way back. I would definitely recommend ignoring the website's instruction to get off at St Peter's Square and get off at Market Street. Alternatively, follow the signs for Manchester Civil Justice Centre, which is right next door to the museum and much better signed!
Admission to the People's History Museum is free, which is brilliant, as it's somewhere I would quite happily go back to. When you go in, the foyer of the museum is a lovely, bright and airy building. I went over to the receptionist who gave me a map of the galleries with a suggested route and told me to chat to any of the staff if I had any questions. You head upstairs to the first gallery (also accessible by a lift). The gallery is split across 2 floors, the first floor is 1819 - 1945 and the second is 1945 to the present day.
I went into gallery 1 first and delved right into the history of the development of democracy. The story begins in 1819, where the regular man on the street did not have the vote and the aristocracy ruled. However, in 1819, there was a peaceful demonstration about how the working people should have the right to vote; unfortunately, the local magistrate got wind of this and sent in the army to quell the protest. As a result, many died at the hands of the army, and this event became the Peterloo Massacre. I found this to be very interesting, particularly how this led to the 1832 Reform Act, which began to give rights to the people; however many were still excluded and in effect, the Act gave a small proportion of people the right to vote! This gave rise to a movement called Chartism, a working class movement for political reform. Also, the exhibition explained about the development of trade unions, from secret societies which aimed to preserve the skills of craftsmen and to protect themselves while illegal under the Illegal Oaths Act. I found this section of the museum absolutely fascinating, as I'm interested in politics and law and the history behind it! This gallery also introduced me to the development of politics as we know it, with Disraeli and Gladstone and also into the development of socialism and communism.
Heading upstairs into gallery 2 (also accessible by lift), I learnt about the development of politics between 1945 - present day, which was really interesting. But the bit I was most keen on finding more about was the uprising of feminism.
***Facilities of the museum/building***
The staff at the museum are very helpful. The receptionist gave me a great overview of the galleries and advised me where to start and pointed me in the right direction. There are staff wandering around the galleries who are also very helpful and answer any questions you have. The building has a cafe should you wish to go and have a sit down or to go and have a cup of tea between galleries. Also, throughout the galleries, it also has seats so you can sit down while you're either watching the numerous videos, interactive displays etc. It would also be easy to navigate either a pushchair or a wheelchair around the galleries, as it's well laid out and has plenty of space!
If you are taking children to the museum, there is plenty to keep them occupied. Whilst they clearly wouldn't appreciate the displays on the development of politics, there are lots of interactive displays, for example, one of which gives a family with the different generations of people and how they personally were affected by the changes during their lifetime and how it impacted on their education, ability to vote, work, raise a family. This sort of display would suit the slightly older child as one youngster in there was absorbed by it! Also, for the younger child, there are displays such as making your own stained glass window on a light box, as well as a display about doing repetitive work (putting together a box from a net) as many home workers did such mind-numbing, repetitive work in vast quantities!
I would recommend leaving a good few hours to be able to really do this museum justice and to be able to thoroughly appreciate the vast wealth of information that this museum holds. I was in there for 2 and a half hours and would have quite happily stayed longer.
If you are looking for something to do in Manchester, this is well worth a visit.
Summary: Definitely a must-do!
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