YCLLD Banner 'Solidarity With Chile' circa 1974 (Image PHM)

50th Anniversary Of The Chilean Military Coup

Heritage Headliners at People’s History Museum
August 21, 2023

People’s History Museum (PHM) is inspiring visitors with its collections in two historical moments during September. The first marks the 50th anniversary of the Chilean military coup of 1973, with an archive open day taking place on Saturday 9 September. The second sees PHM opening up its Conservation Studio for Heritage Open Days on Saturday 16 September.

People’s History Museum holds what is believed to be the UK’s largest collection of archive material from the Chile Solidarity Campaign (CSC). The influential campaign was established during the international outcry that met the military overthrow of the democratically elected Popular Unit coalition under President Salvador Allende, and the violence that followed under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Don’t Buy Chilean Apples, by the Chile Solidarity Campaign, poster 1978. Image courtesy of People's History Museum.

The event in PHM’s archive takes place 50 years from when the coup took place (11 September 1973), with the regime under Pinochet lasting until 1990. This led to a period of political suppression and aggression that included torture, murder and the exile of opponents. The Chile Solidarity Campaign was set up in the UK to raise awareness of the situation and encourage government action, with counterparts in other areas of the world. 

The Archive Team have selected a range of materials that help to illustrate the events and demonstrations that were organised by the Chile Solidarity Campaign; these include a letter from Hortensia Bussi, wife of President Salvador Allende, meeting minutes, photographs, posters and newsletters. It promises to be a fascinating day, with the session taking place from 11.00am to 3.00pm, and it is hoped that some of those who were on the demonstrations or had family members that were part of the CSC might attend. It’s also a chance to find out more about PHM’s archives, which include items of national importance from the last 250 years of British social and political history, from the complete holdings of the national Labour Party to grassroots organisations and campaigns. Tickets are £10 (concessions £6 and free places available) and bookable HERE.

On Saturday 16 September there will be a special opening of The Conservation Studio as PHM celebrates Heritage Open Days. This world renowned facility and its team of experts invite you to a workshop that will put the importance of wool under the microscope, from fleece to fabric! Many of the banners in the museum’s collection are made in light and luxurious silk, however, the most valuable material to working people was strong and warm wool. As well as finding out more about the material, in the From farm to fabric: wondrous wool workshop participants will be making creations they can take home using wet wool felting, and there will be materials to handle and close up observations to be made under a microscope. 

PHM Senior Conservator Jenny van Enckevort Conserving The Manchester Suffragette Banner. Image courtesy of People's History Museum.

The Conservation Team care for all of People’s History Museum’s collection, undertaking very specialised, intricate and time intensive projects, so this is also a great opportunity to find out more about their work. The workshops take place from 11.00am to 12.00pm and from 1.00pm to 2.00pm, are free to take part in and are suitable for age 5 years to adults. You can book tickets HERE.

During your visit you might also spot some of the exhibits in the main galleries that are made of wool. These include the vast Union and Victory banner that was made for the Great London Dock Strike of 1889, and iconic objects such as Labour Party Leader Michael Foot’s ‘donkey’ jacket from the 1980s, and from the Spanish Civil War a militia forage cap from about 1937.

People’s History Museum’s opening hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm, every day except Tuesdays; the archive is open from Wednesday to Friday from 10.00am to 4.00m (lunchtime closure 12.30pm to 1.30pm); and The Conservation Studio isn’t normally open to the public, but there is a viewing window into it from Main Gallery Two. Museum entry is free, with most visitors donating £10. To find out about visiting PHM, its full exhibitions and events programme visit phm.org.uk, and you can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to receive PHM’s e-newsletter.