April Ashley exhibition and heritage education project

April Ashley exhibition in situ at Liverpool Museum

There are 312 museums about Elvis Presley, 12 about lunchboxes but only two museums are un-straight.

Making a difference

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for heritage

  • Volunteers identified and recorded untold stories before they were shared on-line, transcribed and edited into a book and preserved for future generations in the North West Sound Archive.
  • The exhibition interpreted and explained April’s story for a new generation, with many of April’s digitised photographs shared online with a personal commentary.

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for people

  • The project used heritage to change people’s attitudes and challenge prejudice.
  • Over 2000 members of the Trans community took part in the project. Many changed their attitude to museums and heritage, feeling themselves represented for the first time.
  • April enjoyed iconic status within the LGBT communities but was relatively unknown to the general population beyond sensationalist headlines. Many people came to the exhibition with a lack of understanding and knowledge around Trans people’s experiences. The exhibition helped people learn about previously marginalised history and created a legacy of on-line educational and heritage resources.
  • Feedback from 1.2million visitors about their enjoyable experience caused the exhibition’s duration to be extended twice.
  • Various partners trained and supported 20 volunteers in cataloguing, research and oral history collection.

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for communities

  • Press attention and a mini-exhibition tour around twelve Liverpool sites ensured more and a wider range of people engaged with this unique heritage story than would through a traditional museum only display.

Lessons learnt

  • Spending time and effort at the beginning of the project to build real relationships enabled members of the LGBT community to curate parts of the exhibition themselves and ensured that the project was done ‘with people,’ not ‘to people.’
  • It is important for organisations to thoroughly explore the impact delivering the project will have on their staffing capacity and ensure there is enough budget for this.
Back to top of page