History of Manchester in 100 objects


In 2011 we were trying to turn Manchester in to an Ambient Learning City using social media. We wanted people to tell their own stories about Manchester using objects that they owned. We were working with the Museum of Science and Industry and wanted people to tell stories about their own economic history as a way of rethinking what their economic futures might be. This was in the shadow of the credit crunch when it looked like economic life might end, at least for the poorer in society.

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Then the Manchester riots happened in August 2011. Many were fearful but David Caton Roberts decided to act on the principles of the project and get people to collaborate on a crowdsourced project nominating their favourite object in Manchester whilst the riots were happening. Be positive and tell good stories about where you live. He called it a History of Manchester in 100 objects after the British Museum project A History of the World in 100 objects. Click the link and have a look, it’s a great read for Mancunians and everyone else!


Some nominated objects 

…4) The tiled images on the pavement on Oldham Street/Tib Street (the Banksy lion?)…

…8) The City Silver Plate (service kept in Town Hall, piece in Manchester Art Gallery), 1870s…

…77) James Prescott Joules paddle wheel (now there is an object for you)…

What did we learn? We learnt that despite fear, and the relentless focus of news media on the bad, people have good stories to tell and great memories to share. (See our social media festival for more). We learnt that we can find new ways to live and learn in our cities as the economy changes and use social media tools for the collaborative and sharing purposes of learning and empathy, not just for consumption and manipulation.

Fred Garnett

More on Ambient Learning City lessons we learnt from the Manchester MOSI-ALONG project…

Social Cities of Tomorrow

(In London) Participatory City

(In Timisaora) Learning City 2.0

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