People's History Museum

About Us

People’s History Museum in Manchester is the national museum of democracy.  We aim to engage, inspire and inform diverse audiences by showing ‘There have always been ideas worth fighting for’.

The main story of the museum is told in two purpose built galleries located on the first and second floor.  The galleries have been divided into seven themes and roughly follow a chronological order over the last 200 years.  The story starts with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 and ends in the present day.

In addition to the main galleries, there is a Changing Exhibition Gallery (approx two exhibitions on show per year) and a Community Gallery.  There is also a full events programme for families and adults.


The museum houses the Labour History Archive & Study Centre (LHASC) and Textile Conservation Studio (TCS).  The museum runs a full Learning Programme for all ages.  In addition there are various opportunities for you to hold your meetings or events here through our Venue Hire service.


The origins of the museum lie in the 1960s when a group of pioneer activists began to collect labour history material at a time when the museum world was largely uninterested.  They believed strongly in the importance of collecting and preserving items belonging to working people.  They opened the National Museum of Labour History in London in 1975.

In the 1980s, with the museum’s future threatened by a lack of funding, the collection was rescued by Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester authorities, with the help of the TUC.  Local champions who believed in the importance of the collection fought for the museum to come to Manchester and the museum reopened on Princess Street in 1990 in the building where the first meeting of the TUC took place over one hundred years earlier.

Interest in the museum continued to grow and the collection continued to expand.  The museum needed larger premises and a second site was opened at the Pump House in 1994 with public galleries, exhibition spaces, learning programmes and events for an interested and engaged audience.

There was still more to do and the museum had an ambitious plan to expand even further, to bring all museum activities, operations and staff onto one site and to create a landmark building to fully reflect the unique and special story it told of the development of democracy in Britain.

The museum successfully secured an investment of £12.5 million from local, regional and national partners to achieve this vision.  In 2010 the museum re-launched itself again with a restored Pump House and a new modern four storey extension, attached to the original building by a glass walkway and clad in a striking, rusty exterior of Corten steel.

Since 2010 the museum has attracted national and international press coverage, is embedded as a key cultural attraction in Greater Manchester, has achieved annual visitor numbers of over 100,000 and welcomes an audience of both local residents and national and international visitors.


The museum receives funding from a variety of organisations, companies and local and central government departments.

The People’s History Museum is a charity and is a company limited by guarantee with a maximum of 20 trustees.  It is independent and has no political affiliation.

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