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DMU's 150th anniversary exhibition moves online

People can explore an exhibition celebrating 150 years of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) without leaving home.

DMU’s heritage team have moved the exhibition - which was set up inside DMU Heritage Centre - online so that people can still view it during lockdown.

old leicester dmu
Photographs, examples of student work and artefacts from different decades tell the stories not only of students and staff but of Leicester itself as the city grew and developed.

The exhibition has been curated by DMU Heritage Centre co-ordinator Elizabeth Wheelband, using items from the university archive working with archivist Katharine Short.

Instead of a traditional timeline, she decided to tell the myriad stories of DMU and its predecessors through the objects chosen for the exhibition. The online exhibition will change through the year with new images and artefacts updated regularly. 

You can visit the exhibition here. Click on any image in the gallery to find out more about its role in the story of DMU.

“Through a mixture of university collections, memories and everyday objects, this unconventional history connects generations and shares the ongoing narrative of DMU,” said Elizabeth. “We have tried to explore what really shapes our vibrant community; the hidden histories, social changes, campus transformations, unforgettable moments and outstanding research.”

DMU can trace its history back to Leicester School of Art, founded in 1870. It soon become one of the largest art schools in the country. Twelve years later, Leicester Technical School was opened, adding to the drawing and painting skills being taught.

In 1929, it became Leicester College of Arts and Crafts and the Leicester College of Technology as it expanded to cover subjects and courses in response to industry demand – such as boot and shoe manufacture, hosiery, lithography, sign writing.

Here are just some of the stories celebrated in the exhibition:

Helping ex-servicemen learn new trades:

After the First World War, ex-servicemen were taught new trades, and tailored classes were set up to support students with disabilities.


Leicester’s Pageant:

Students and staff designed costumes, and created signs for the 1932 Leicester Pageant, a spectacular event which told the story of the city


Talented teachers:

The exhibition also celebrates some of the talented teachers including Leicester Polytechnic glass lecturer William ‘Bill’ Heaton, who set up a new glass studio passing on his decades of experience to students.

Research that makes a difference:

It also includes up-to-date research – Dr Karthikeyan Kandan’s prosthetic limb sockets made from plastic bottles, which could make healthcare affordable for millions and tackle plastic pollution.

Posted on Friday 8th May 2020

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