People's History of the NHS

  • 08
  • JUL

Upcoming events in Leeds!

by Jenny Crane

Our team are heading to Leeds this month for two exciting events held in collaboration with the Thackray Medical Museum!

The first is on Saturday 16th July.  Between 10am and 3pm, we will be in a museum gallery holding an ‘NHS Roadshow’.  To get to the Roadshow you will need to purchase a ticket to enter the museum, which can be done on the day or in advance.  At our Roadshows we ask you to bring along any NHS-related objects and items which you may have, for example campaign banners, medical school brochures, false teeth, glasses, hearing aids, baby tags, crafts which you made during a hospital stay.  We would love to look at these objects, and hear the stories behind them, and the ways in which they have helped you to interpret your relationship with the NHS.  With your permission, we would also love to photograph these objects and to include them in our virtual museum of the NHS.

We created our virtual museum in response to the fact that there is not (at least not yet!) a Museum of the NHS in Britain.  As one of our project leads Professor Roberta Bivins has pointed out, there are museums dedicated to the histories of the police, miners, army, railways, but no museum for the NHS, an institution which literally touches us all.  To further think this issue through, on Thursday 21st July, between 6 and 730pm, we will be holding a discussion panel at the Thackray cafe entitled: ‘Why is there no museum of the NHS?’  This event is FREE and no pre-registration is required.

We hope that discussions will be broad, including thinking about what objects should (and should not?) be included in a museum of the NHS, and the role of the public in helping us to curate this by showing us their ‘NHS objects’.  We have four wonderful speakers who will give short papers to open up these themes, and more.  First, Professors Roberta Bivins and Mathew Thomson, from our People’s History of the NHS team, will speak about ‘Building a virtual museum of the NHS’.  Our next speaker is Dr Claire Jones, a historian and curator of medicine at Kings College London, and formerly Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Leeds.  Dr Jones will speak to us about ‘Objects, People and their Power’.  Finally, Professor Graeme Gooday, a historian at the University of Leeds, will speak to us about his research into the private and public origins of NHS hearing aids, including consideration of the roles of the Post Office, Medical Research Council and National Institute for the Deaf.

We will then open up for substantial discussion from the floor, and invite visual artists, museum co-ordinators, historians, campaigners, education and arts professionals, clinicians, and all interested members of the public to join, with the hopes that productive and fascinating dialogue and perhaps even collaborations between attendees may emerge.

If you wish to learn more about these events, please do email us on

If you are unable to make these events, but are interested and would like to meet with us at another time, then do check out our Events page for full listings of our ongoing arts and engagement programmes.  We would love to meet as many people as possible, to tell the fullest story of the shifting meanings and emotions attached to this key British institution over time.

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