Crime and Punishment - A People's History in Manchester

By Graham Spicer | 15 July 2005
Shows a photo of a indoor wall which is covered by a graffiti-style mural in red and blue spelling out the words People's History 2005

The exhibition's graffiti wall challenges viewers about whether art can be a crime. © People's History Museum.

Visitors to a Manchester museum will be encouraged to add graffiti to its walls, as part of a new exhibition looking at the history of working people and crime.

Crime and Punishment 1800-2000 opens at the People’s History Museum on July 16 2005, and has been created with the help of the Greater Manchester Police Museum. On show until January 2006, it shows how working people have been both victims and perpetrators of crime.

One of its interactive features is a graffiti wall, where visitors will be encouraged to add their own artistic contributions to a mural started by local painter Joe Morris. The museum hopes it will prompt a discussion as to whether graffiti is ‘public art’ or vandalism.

Shows a poster with the words Wanted Out and the names Merrick, Turner, Clancy, Steer and Watkins and a picture of five pairs of hands clutching at prison bars

Pentonville Five poster, 1972. © People's History Museum.

The exhibition also contains an execution block, a reconstruction of a prison cell and items from protests such as the Miners’ Strike and industrial unrest of the 1970s.

One poster from 1972 illustrates support for the Pentonville Five. The Pentonville Five were dockers jailed for breaching the Industrial Relations Act by picketing. Edward Heath's conservative government were forced to back down and release them after widespread unofficial strikes.

The museum tells the story of ordinary people at home, at work and during leisure time over the last 200 years.

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