Two new digital experiences at People’s History Museum (PHM) have been selected by the Digital Leaders 100 Awards as one of the top 10 Cross-Sector Digital Collaborations of the year.  These interactives use digital technology to enable visitors to the national museum of democracy to take part in experiences that help to bring to life the stories of the Match Girls’ Strike (1888) and the Grunwick strike (1976 – 1978). 

Image Credit: People's History Museum

A public vote will now determine which projects make it to the final DL100 list, which is published each year by the Digital Leaders Awards.  Voting opens on Monday 1 June 2020 (4pm) and you can vote for People’s History Museum’s ‘History Makers’ project here: https://digileaders100.com/cross-sector-digital-collaboration

The new digital interactive exhibits in the main galleries of People’s History Museum have been created in partnership with Creative AR & VR Hub, Manchester Metropolitan University, with funding support from the AIM Biffa Award Programme’s History Makers Scheme.

Although 90 years apart, the Match Girls’ Strike and the Grunwick strike both represent stories of working class women fighting for rights and better conditions; creative digital approaches have produced interesting and engaging ways of exploring what took place.  Firstly, you will find yourself on the production line of the Bryant & May match factory in east London, where most of the workers were girls under the age of 15.  This was a place where low wages could get even lower if you dropped matches or went to the toilet without permission, and where exposure to phosphorous could cause a form of bone cancer, known as ‘phossy jaw’.  An arcade-style game, designed for all ages to experience, gives a snapshot of what working life for the match girls was like and an understanding of what would lead to strike action, and the leading role of social reformer Annie Besant within this.

The second experience is an augmented reality (AR) installation, also on the main galleries of the museum, which enables the visitors to investigate for themselves the story of Jayaben Desai and her role within the Grunwick strike.  Lasting for almost two years, the dispute was sparked over an issue of working conditions, but quickly spread to wider questions of institutional racism and inequality. AR technology enables a close up exploration of the artefacts from this fascinating history and to hear the voices of those involved helping to paint the picture of what happened and why the Grunwick strike is recognised as such a turning point in for race relations in the workplace.

Image Credit: People's History Museum

Sarah Miguel, Head of Business Development, People’s History Museum, says “Although our doors are closed at the moment the development of our digital capabilities is central to our work as a museum, both in terms of the experiences that we offer visitors in the future and to those that want to interact with our work and our collections online.  So we are delighted that our partnership work with Manchester Metropolitan University has been acknowledged by pioneers within the digital sector as part of the Digital Leaders Awards and hope people will vote for us in the next stages.”

You can view find out more about the inspiring story of the Match Girls’ Strike, the role that Jayaben Desai played in the Grunwick strike and view films of the digital experiences at People’s History Museum here: www.phm.org.uk/digital-experiences-at-phm/

The winners of the Digital Leaders Awards are determined by a public vote.  This opens at 4pm on Monday 1 June and closes on Friday 14 August 2020, with the results announced on Saturday 17 October.  To make your vote visit: https://digileaders100.com/cross-sector-digital-collaboration

You can discover more about the work behind both projects by joining Sarah Miguel (Head of Business Development at People’s History Museum) and Alasdair Swenson (Lecturer of Immersive Technology Development at Manchester Metropolitan University) for a talk about Exploring Immersive Technology on Friday 12 June as part of the Digital Leaders Virtual Summit (8 – 19 June 2020). Places for this talk can be booked here: www.virtual.digileaders.com/talks/exploring-immersive-technology/.

People’s History Museum is currently closed due to Covid-19, but you can stay in touch by visiting phm.org.uk, signing up to the e-newsletter, subscribing to the blog, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.

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People's History Museum
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People's History Museum

People’s History Museum (PHM) is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.

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