A banner from our latest exhibition

Exhibition: Reclaiming Lunacy

29th Jul 2023

Thanks to funding from Historic England’s Everyday Heritage Fund, Ripon Museums have been able to work alongside two London based artists on the creation of a new exhibition exploring disability within the Workhouse.

Kate Lovell is a neurodivergent and disabled theatre maker and writer.

Aisling Gallagher is a disabled artist, director and creative access practitioner.

Our dedicated curatorial volunteers researched the unseen histories of disabled people who were inmates or staff working in Ripon Workhouse between the Victorian era and the early 1900’s. Kate and Aisling then worked with participants from Henshaw Arts and Crafts Centre, Ripon Disability Forum and the wider Ripon community to help create new interpretations of these research materials to be displayed at the Workhouse Museum.

Inspired by the social model of disability the artists encouraged participants to make vibrant and loud banners that reclaimed the historic language used to describe disability and to also boldly mark the lives of disabled people who lived in the Workhouse. The only marks previously left by Workhouse inmates were their names and disabilities recorded in the Workhouse records or within the Census. These powerful and personal pieces of work can now be viewed in the dining room at the Workhouse Museum & Garden, integrating disabled peoples stories into the museum.

The Workhouse Museum & Garden is open daily between 11am & 4pm (10am in school holidays).


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