Museum Explores Protest with New Exhibition


A thought-provoking exhibition exploring the social issues facing Wiganers through the ages has opened at the Museum of Wigan Life.

‘Rebels, Radicals and Reform – The Fight For Better’ has been curated by Wigan Council’s museum staff and features a range of pieces from the authority’s archives and loan pieces from Manchester Art Gallery, Working Class Movement Library and local residents.

It explores the notion of protest and the fight for equality from the 1300’s to present day including the Jacobite rebellions following Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1658 and Peterloo to issues still topical today such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights.

Joan Livesey, service development officer within the Culture, Arts & Heritage team, led the creation of the exhibition. She said: “This has been one of the hardest exhibitions I’ve worked on because there is so much invaluable information and amazing people to showcase from the borough’s past.

“This project has been so inspiring and I’ve learned a lot. Discovering different stories and realising the fire seen in Wiganers to fight for better over time has instilled a sense of pride in me for the borough.”

In addition to a coal mine section, which simulates the cramped conditions the borough’s miners had to work in, the exhibition also features work from local youth groups, including that of Global Friends – a group set up for children who have moved to Wigan Borough from other countries.

Kristina, originally from Eastern Slovakia is 15. She created a piece of artwork representing how to carry on with life despite setbacks. She says: “Flowers always die, but love continues.”

Rebels, Radicals and Reform also tackles climate change, featuring information about at-risk animals and quotes from Greta Thunberg.

The Mayor of Wigan Borough’s infamous multi-coloured suit is also on display in the Pride section, which looks at how our borough has evolved along with the LGBTQ movement.

Rebels, Radicals and Reform will be on display for 12 months. The Museum of Wigan Life reopened in August in line with national guidance and social distancing measures.

Visitors will be required to wear a face mask when inside the museum.

To see the exhibition, visit the Museum of Wigan Life, Thursday-Saturday, 10am-4pm for free.