Updated: Friday, 13th September 2019 @ 2:25pm

The people's choice: Manchester museum up for prestigious Guardian award

The people's choice: Manchester museum up for prestigious Guardian award

| By Tommy Wilson

Manchester’s People’s History Museum has been nominated for being the UK’s most inspiring visitor attraction of the past 12 months by the Guardian Culture Professional Network.

The museum, which tells the story of working people in Britain over the last 200 years, was picked as one of five nominees of the prestigious award after more than 400 suggestions were put forward.

Museum Director Katy Ashton spoke to MM about her delight at the achievement, with the award being decided by a public vote that will run until the end of the month.

“We’re incredibly proud," she said. “The museum is very popular and we always do well in awards – particularly ones that are chosen by the public.

“It’s a great achievement and a real recognition of the work we’ve been doing.”

The museum, located in a Grade II-listed building, is a former hydraulic pumping station designed by City Architect Henry Price and has attracted more than 100,000 visitors for the first time in its history last year.

Tourist numbers have shot up since the museum reopened in February 2010 following a £12.5million redevelopment, which included the construction of a four storey extension along with a refurbishment of the existing Pump House.

Katy explained the museum's appeal and why it has proven to be so popular with the public.

“People see this as the only museum of its kind in the country and we stand out because our stories and collections are unique,” she said.

“A lot of our exhibitions are great and very inspiring.

"The museum is the People’s History Museum, so it’s all about people, and I think that makes it very connected to its audience.

“People come and have a very emotive deep connection to the stories that the museum tells."

The museum's current exhibition Election! has proved the most popular spectacle according to Katy – which is on display until the end of June.

Speaking to MM last month about his exhibition, curator Chris Burgess explained how Election! aimed to demystify British politics in the run up to May’s general election.

He said: “There’s currently a lot of disillusionment with the British election system and a lot of disillusionment with democracy.

“Politics is all about the ability for everybody to get involved.”

Katy explained that the museum had a worldwide appeal with 15% of visitors coming from abroad, and that they regularly received an abundance of positive feedback.

"We get lots of positive comments and we get good feedback in our book," she said.

"We also have a video booth where people can record what they think about the museum and we're currently asking them why it’s important to vote.

"There’re always lots of opportunities for people to tell us what they think."

Overall, Katy believed the museum deserved the accolade, but admitted that they faced tough competition.

“I think the museum has got a very good chance,” she said.

"We've been nominated for quite a few awards and won some when we opened our new building in 2010.

"The other museums are obviously very good and there’re five great organisations, but we hope that we win.

“We always find that people get very involved, engaged and active through the work the museum does – when they see the exhibitions, they really love them.”

The winning venue or attraction will be announced at the Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence on Wednesday April 25.

Voting closes on Friday March 20 at 11:59pm and you can do this by clicking here.

Image courtesy of Neil Turner 2, with thanks.