History Matters Project

A Policy Exchange Project

History Matters

Policy Exchange’s History Matters project was established in June 2020 to address widespread national concern about the growing trend to alter public history and heritage without due process. Through the regularly updated History Matters compendium, we have been documenting attempts at historical re-interpretation and re-invention, gathering evidence about the processes by which changes to the national teaching and display of history have been made.

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History Matters Project: Tenth Edition

This is the tenth edition of our rolling compendium, which attempts to draw together a range of recent developments that turn on the place of history in the public square – including the removal of certain statues on public display, the renaming of buildings and places, and changes to the way history is taught in educational curricula. In cataloguing these examples, we do not offer any judgment on the actions of the individual or institution in question, today or in the past. Our aim is simply to provide a clear documentary record of what is happening – which can help inform public debate on these issues. At present, the evidence confirms that history is the most active front in a new culture war, and that action is being taken widely and quickly in a way that does not reflect public opinion or growing concern over our treatment of the past.

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Camden council renames buildings without gaining local consent

Just as it seemed that the frenzy to cancel historical figures, bring down statues and rewrite curricula had begun to subside, recent events in Camden suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement may have life in it yet. The past fortnight has seen Camden Council hold official ceremonies to mark the renaming of two council-owned buildings.

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Churchill College has made a wise decision in closing down the working group on Churchill, Race and Empire

Is the tide in the so-called culture wars beginning to turn? Recent evidence suggests that at least a mainstream effort to push back against activism by a vocal minority is working. Oriel College, Oxford is not going to remove its Rhodes statue. And yesterday Churchill College, Cambridge announced the disbanding of its Churchill, Race and Empire Working Group, which was established in the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests last year. The news holds particular resonance for us as the authors of a Policy Exchange paper which was published after an event at Churchill College, Cambridge on 11th February this year.

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History Matters Project: Ninth Edition

This is the ninth edition of our rolling compendium, which attempts to draw together a range of recent developments that turn on the place of history in the public square – including the removal of certain statues on public display, the renaming of buildings and places, and changes to the way history is taught in educational curricula. In cataloguing these examples, we do not offer any judgment on the actions of the individual or institution in question, today or in the past. Our aim is simply to provide a clear documentary record of what is happening – which can help inform public debate on these issues. At present, the evidence confirms that history is the most active front in a new culture war, and that action is being taken widely and quickly in a way that does not reflect public opinion or growing concern over our treatment of the past.

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Protecting local heritage

Since the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, a number of councils across England and Wales have stated their commitment to reviewing local street names and—where these are deemed to have a contentious history—to considering renaming them. In several instances, the decision-making process with regards street name alteration has excluded residents and locals, in spite of the immense direct impact street renaming has on a street’s residents.

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Latest Events

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  • Tuesday, 2 March, 2021
    13:00 - 17:00

The way in which history is displayed and taught in museums, in galleries and in public spaces is currently a subject of greater contention than ever before.

There is increasing pressure on institutions, on public bodies and on local councils to remove artefacts from public display, or to explain or rename what is there. Through its fortnightly compendium of evidence, the History Matters Newsletter, Policy Exchange has been leading the way in documenting how our shared history is being contested.

Policy Exchange’s March 2021 History Matters Conference is the first event to bring together leading decision-makers and professionals in the museums and galleries sector and other experts in order to develop new public policy approaches than can be applied broadly.

Latest Publications

History Matters

History Matters

Policy Exchange’s History Matters project was established in June 2020 to address widespread national concern about the growing trend to alter public history and heritage without due process. Through the regularly updated History Matters compendium, we have been documenting attempts at historical re-interpretation and re-invention, gathering evidence about the processes by which changes to the national teaching and display of history have been made.

History Matters Project: Tenth Edition

History Matters Project: Tenth Edition

This is the tenth edition of our rolling compendium, which attempts to draw together a range of recent developments that turn on the place of history in the public square – including the removal of certain statues on public display, the renaming of buildings and places, and changes to the way history is taught in educational curricula. In cataloguing these examples, we do not offer any judgment on the actions of the individual or institution in question, today or in the past. Our aim is simply to provide a clear documentary record of what is happening – which can help inform public debate on these issues. At present, the evidence confirms that history is the most active front in a new culture war, and that action is being taken widely and quickly in a way that does not reflect public opinion or growing concern over our treatment of the past.

History Matters Project: Ninth Edition

History Matters Project: Ninth Edition

This is the ninth edition of our rolling compendium, which attempts to draw together a range of recent developments that turn on the place of history in the public square – including the removal of certain statues on public display, the renaming of buildings and places, and changes to the way history is taught in educational curricula. In cataloguing these examples, we do not offer any judgment on the actions of the individual or institution in question, today or in the past. Our aim is simply to provide a clear documentary record of what is happening – which can help inform public debate on these issues. At present, the evidence confirms that history is the most active front in a new culture war, and that action is being taken widely and quickly in a way that does not reflect public opinion or growing concern over our treatment of the past.

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