RETRO: New project puts spotlight on Sheffield’s tradition of protest

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In 2017 barely a day goes by without news of a protest occurring somewhere across the world.

Here in Sheffield today, people continue to speak out about the issues that matter to them, whether that’s Trump, the trees or cuts to the NHS.

A new project led by Museums Sheffield is now set to shine a spotlight the city’s longstanding tradition of protest and activism.

Sheffield people have always stood up for what they believe in.

In the 1790s James Montgomery and the radical press famously challenged a wide range of social injustices.

In the 1830s Samuel Holberry’s Chartists pushed for working class rights, then in the early1900s Adela Pankhurst and the Suffragettes campaigned for votes for women.

By the 1980s, the Miners’ Strike and the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ had made headlines across the country.

Our daily lives have also been changed and improved through the struggles of countless people who don’t grace the pages of history books, but without their efforts today’s world and our city would be very different.

Over the next two years Museums Sheffield’s Protest and Activism project aims to celebrate the city’s remarkable protest story.

Although Sheffield has been at the forefront of many important protests over the last 250 years, the city’s historic museum collections don’t currently tell that story fully.

To address that, we’re talking with people across Sheffield, including different organisations, campaign groups and communities to try to find out which causes are important to them and discover how they’ve helped shaped the city.

In 1918 the Representation of the People’s Act became law and the first women were given the vote alongside all men over 21.

Although the number of women who were able to vote was limited, this was a huge step towards equal voting rights, a struggle which for generations many people in Sheffield had been fighting for.

To mark this major anniversary in 2018, we’ll be holding a series of exhibitions and events across our museums and galleries.

In preparation, we’re currently hosting ‘Protest Lab’ at the Millennium Gallery, an interactive space which invites people from across the city to get involved in shaping both the exhibitions and what is represented in the city’s collections.

We want to hear what causes are important to you and to the city’s history. What activist objects and stories would you like to see the museums save for future generations?

Which campaigns should feature in next year’s exhibitions? What should we be collecting from the protests that are taking place now? Is there anything in your loft or in the back of a cupboard or under your bed that you’ve saved from protests that you’d like to tell us about?

If you have any protest related material, from suffragette sashes to banners, badges, and T-shirts, or just a protest story that you think we might be interested in, we’d love to hear from you.

Please contact us at exhibitions@museums-sheffield.org.uk or call 0114 278 2754.