Women telling the story of women – Pankhurst Centre opens to the public to mark Women’s Equality Day

26th August marks Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates when votes to women officially became part of the US constitution in 1920. This critical day in women’s history coincides with the official public opening of the Pankhurst Centre, which tells the story of the Pankhurst family and how their campaign, which started in 62 Nelson Street, spread to the rest of the country.

Exhibition designers, Mather & Co, created the exhibition ‘At Home with the Pankhurst Family.’ Sarah Clarke, Managing Director said: “We are very proud that The Pankhurst Centre acknowledged the strong female presence in our company at all levels of the business – it feels very empowering for women to be telling the story of women.”

From 1898 to 1907, 62 Nelson Street was the home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her family. It was also an iconic site for women’s activism as it hosted the very first Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) meeting in the parlour. After the death of Emmeline’s husband, she moved to this smaller home with a plan to make her living by taking on work as a registrar as well as helping to move forward the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Pankhurst Centre

Mather & Co’s objective was to reimagine three living spaces in the home to represent the family at this time and their involvement in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but also to create an exhibition which represents the work of the Pankhurst Centre today. The design was inspired by the methods of agitation used at the time, such as the chalk writing on pavements and walls, painting, smashing windows using domestic items to create a fresh new visual style for the space that represents the activists then and the organisation now.

The first room in the exhibition provides a modern take on the classic Edwardian wallpaper. Dark, chalk-filled walls infer the ‘ideal’ domestic home in a modern and surprising way, using the Suffragettes’ DIY movement and methods of agitation to tell their history.

In the second room, an emotional immersive show places you at the centre of the debate on women’s rights, displaying the many sides to the story and allowing visitors to have their own views.

Pankhurst Centre

The final space is the place where it all happened. This is the room where the first meeting of the WSPU took place, founding the organisation which would become notorious for their militancy and determination to win women the right to vote.

Sarah Clarke adds: “With such a pivotal story in women’s history, to be able to tell the Pankhurst’s and the WSPU’s story has been an absolute privilege. The exhibition is an inspiring and moving experience that shares a unique insight into the lives of the family.”

The Pankhurst Centre continues the fight for women’s equality today as the headquarters of Manchester Women’s Aid, providing confidential advice and services to those experiencing domestic violence and abuse. ‘At Home with the Pankhurst Family’ opens to the public on Sunday 29th August 2021. For more information about The Pankhurst Centre visit: www.pankhurstmuseum.com

The project has been made possible thanks to funding from AIM Biffa Award History Makers, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.