2018 marks the centenary year of the Representation of the People Act – a milestone in the battle for democracy and gender equality in Britain. The act granted all men over 21, and all women over 30 who met certain property requirements, the right to vote for the first time. As the national museum of democracy, the People’s History Museum’s headline 2018 exhibition, Represent! Voices 100 Years On, will be guided and informed by the notion of representation itself.
The exhibition will be made up entirely of submissions from groups, either of their own materials or responses to pieces from PHM’s collection. Safety4Sisters, Manchester Women’s March, 42nd Street and the Proud Trust are some of those that are working to create an emotional experience which will reflect, interpret, challenge and engage audiences in an exhibition that will present itself in the form of a feminist zine.
The recently acquired Manchester suffragette banner (1908) and a significant collection of suffrage material such as sashes, brooches, photographs and cartoons from the early 20th century are elements of the museum’s collection that will help to paint a picture of what representation meant in 1918. Working as an editorial team, community groups will draw inspiration and parallels from these historical pieces in their responses to issues of representation and equality that prevail in today’s society.