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DMU's 150 anniversary exhibition

This year marks 150 years since the opening of DMU's predecessor institution, the Leicester School of Art. 

To celebrate, we've put together an exhibition which explores what really shapes our vibrant community;  the hidden histories, social changes, campus transformations, unforgettable moments and outstanding research. 

Click on any image to find out more about how it links to the ongoing story of De Montfort University. 

Curated by: Elizabeth Wheelband, Steven Peachey of DMU Heritage Centre

The proposal was approved, and the first classes of the Leicester School of Art began on 1st March 1870.

Gate of Opportunity".

This bold statement echoed the spirit of the institution, which was founded around inclusion and provided a practical education to the people of Leicester regardless of their previous experience.

From teenagers learning their first trade to artisans looking to improve their skills, the institution offered a range of full-time, part-time or evening courses to local men and women.

It was this accessible and flexible approach to learning, alongside the support of the local industry, that has given DMU a reputation as ‘the people’s university’.

which have been of the greatest assistance in the development of the anti-submarine apparatus."


‘Leicester’s man of glass’ was passionate about his work and passing on techniques to the hundreds of students he taught to help preserve the future of craft design.

On loan from Glenda Valerie Harden, Granddaughter to Bill Heaton.


Graham later retuned as a much-respected teacher at the institution until his retirement in 1983.

This pattern for recruitment, where staff were former students, is quite common. Additionally, the majority of staff taught part-time while continuing to work in their profession, whether art, design or manufacture. This was an important strand to the institution as it ensured teaching was up-to-date and relevant to current industry trends.


An artificial pancreas continuously responds to the body to deliver variable doses of insulin in an intelligent response to glucose. This replaces the idea that the diabetic person would repeatedly calculate what injected or pumped insulin is needed, depending on their current blood glucose level and what they propose to eat and do over the following 4-6 hours. The consequences of getting the dose wrong present a hazard in both under- and over-dose.

These calculation skills are needed by a very large number of diabetic people and the reality is that health providers spend large amounts on supporting the struggle experienced with this balancing of food and the very potent insulin.

The academic world and pharmaceutical industry have found the technology for automated insulin administration difficult to develop. For most proposed systems, the problems lie in the skin where glucose is sensed and insulin is delivered, because of the density of molecular movement making readings lag behind real time where there can be sudden large changes. In addition, the diabetic person, especially the younger type 1 people, would prefer a safe, invisible implantable device.

The innovation here is implantation and delivery in the abdominal tissue, avoiding skin except for refill ports. All parts of the device are invisible externally. Developed by Professor Joan Taylor from DMU’s School of Pharmacy in collaboration with Renfrew Group International, the device won the inaugural Gadget Show Live British Inventor of the Year award in 2014. It has shown real promise in pre-clinical use and the hope is to progress to human trials.


The work on display here is a copy of his Degree Show piece submitted in his final year at DMU in 1989 alongside a series of composition photographs.