Challenging Histories Public Programme 2017-19
Challenging Histories was a pilot programme that explored some of the more hidden aspects of our places between 2017 and 2019. Each year we focused on a different theme that reflected national anniversaries and public debates. Through exhibitions, events and story-telling, we explored how these overlooked histories have shaped how we live now.
In 2019, 200 years after the Peterloo Massacre, we looked at places where people fought to express and contest their political and social rights. In 2018 we shone a light on women’s history and suffrage and in 2017, as well as launching our Challenging Histories programme we explored our connections to LGBTQ heritage.
We’ve learnt a lot from this work. Please explore the links below for further information and resources. We’ve adopted the learning into our approaches to curatorship, programming and partnership working.
In 2019 we showcased places in our national landscape which are important symbols of passion and protest. We commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre and we explained how the reverberations of this critical moment in democracy can still be felt.
Through events and exhibitions, we told the remarkable stories of those who fought for the rights of ordinary people and the sites that remain places of modern pilgrimage today.
In 2018, 100 years since women first gained the vote in the UK by shining a light on women's history and the fight for suffrage at our places.
At least 25 of our places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality. 50 years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, we explored our LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) heritage with a programme called Prejudice and Pride.
The following are just some of the places that were involved in Prejudice and Pride, working with University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries to better understand these stories. Staff and volunteers took part in a training programme looking at how and why to better acknowledge this LGBTQ history. This learning was shared with the university and heritage sector in a conference in spring 2018.
Tackling historic issues that resonate to this day
We look after hundreds of places, from stone circles and beaches to mansions, moors and workhouses. With millions of objects in our collection, from the everyday to the unique, and archives of photographs, maps and letters, we have an opportunity to tackle stories found at more than one place to show how they fit into our nations’ tale. By working with public anniversaries and commemorations, we want to play our part in a wider debate on issues that have their roots in the past but are of continuing relevance today.
Help from academic experts
We’re working with academics and other specialists to uncover these stories. This new research will help explain our places better to visitors and we’ll also be sharing our findings through academic conferences and expert publications.
Bringing our research to life for our visitors
You’ll be able to delve further into these uncovered tales through podcasts, guidebooks and specialist publications.
Our work with Trusted Source, a partnership with Oxford University, will create new digital information that adds greater depth and background to our places.
More about our research
In line with our Research Strategy we engage in relevant, up-to-date, rigorous research into these topics.