Pankhurst Centre to reopen in 2021 with new exhibition after funding success

The iconic site of the suffrage movement will present a new permanent display, ‘At home with the Pankhurst Family’ in its redesigned exhibition space.

Manchester’s Pankhurst Centre will reopen in Summer 2021 with a new permanent exhibition, after securing funding that will help transform the museum.

Funding from the AIM Biffa Award History Makers will see the museum and former home of Emmeline Pankhurst present its new display, ‘At home with the Pankhursts’, and renovate the exhibition space.

After being closed to the public since March, the exhibition will showcase the lives of the Pankhurst family at the birth of the suffrage movement.

The grant money will go towards an exhibition designer, plus improving the museum’s interior space and its accessibility for a younger audience.

The centre has also secured an £87,617 grant from the National Lottery Heritage fund, which will support the Pankhurst Trust’s archive compilation, ‘Rooms of our Own: The Herstory of the Pankhurst Centre’.

The archive is a volunteer-led project, which categorises activist material that has been with the centre since the 1980s.

It will eventually be deposited at Manchester’s Central Library, where it will be made available to the public for the first time.

The project will also include a compilation of oral histories about the Pankhurst Centre, and creative workshops for young people.

The centre, which receives no public funding, relies heavily on grants and the work of volunteers to support the site.

It saw a record number of visitors at the year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, but less than a week later was forced to close under lockdown restrictions.

The centre received £28,000 in August from the National Lottery’s Heritage Emergency Fund to support its running costs during the pandemic.

Pankhurst Centre curator, Tessa Chynoweth, recognised that the emergency funding and grants have helped the museum survive the pandemic.

She said: “This year has been a huge learning curve, and we’ve been adapting to the guidelines as they are announced.

“It is our role to protect, share, learn from and inspire others with the story of the Pankhurst Centre. The funding of these projects will give us the opportunity to do this”.

In 2018, the Pankhurst Centre applied unsuccessfully for a £4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which would have funded major reconstruction and maintenance to the Victorian building.

Museum staff hope its new redesign will be a step towards achieving these large-scale improvements when they next apply for the Heritage grant.

Ms Chynoweth said: “The work we do this year means the experience of visiting the centre will be radically different.

“We won’t be doing building work, but this will be such a leg up for us in terms of interpretation of the space”.

ICONIC: Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst

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