President Donald Trump waves after speaking following a tour of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on 9 December 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi.
President Donald Trump waves after speaking following a tour of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on 9 December 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi.

10 of the best places to find political inspiration

In times of political turmoil, seek out the world's most pioneering people and places

Joanna Whitehead
Thursday 12 July 2018 11:44

In the current political climate, and with President Trump's UK visit ruffling more than a few feathers, it can be easy to feel pessimistic and apathetic about the world and its woes. But now more than ever we need hope, perseverance and resistance. Here are 10 of the best places in the world to find inspiration from the greatest political movements, moments and people.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, Dorset

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum tells the story of the birth of modern day trade unionism. A group of six impoverished farm workers from Dorset who formed a trade union in 1834 to fight back against poor pay, The Tolpuddle Martyrs were arrested and sentenced to seven years transportation (being sent to the colonies) for taking an oath of secrecy. Their efforts to improve workers’ rights at great personal cost laid the foundation for the improvement of working conditions across the country. In addition to the museum, Dorset hosts an annual festival (which takes place on 14 and 15 July 2018) with music, comedy, stalls and political debate.

The National Civil Rights Museum, Tennessee

Located at the infamous Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, the National Civil Rights Museum was established in 1991 to educate and inform visitors about the civil rights movement. This emotive history is told through films, oral histories and interactive media. It’s also one of the sites on the US civil rights trail that was launched in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

Tariq Thompson holds a Black Lives Matter sign outside the National Civil Rights Museum

Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam

The Anne Frank Museum is housed in the very building that Anne and her family lived in for over two years before being discovered and deported to concentration camps. Famous for her diary which contains a testimony typical of many teenage girls, it also offers a sobering insight into the challenges she and the wider Jewish community faced during this dark period of history. Visitors to the museum are required to book a timed ticket online in advance, as demand is often greater than supply.

Anne Frank’s diary on display in the Anne Frank Museum

Stonewall Inn, New York

Designated as a National Monument by former US president Barack Obama in 2016, this LGBT bar was the catalyst in the burgeoning fight for LGBT equality. The watering hole was the site of the Stonewall riots, a series of violent uprisings by LGBT people against continued police harassment and brutality, at a time when LGBT people’s rights were not yet enshrined in law. The Inn continues to operate as an LGBT venue and attracts supporters of LGBT rights from around the world.

The legendary Stonewall Inn

The Pankhurst Centre, Manchester

This small museum pays tribute to the Pankhurst family and suffragettes and their role in the fight for women’s suffrage. The historically significant building was once the home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her family and now houses a women’s community centre.

Hiroshima Peace Museum, Japan

Continuing calls for efforts towards nuclear disarmament, this sobering museum commemorates the explosion of the first atomic bomb. Preserved artefacts and painful video testimonies of survivors make for a sobering visit, although visitors report feeling its “powerful message…of hope and the importance of peace.” The museum continues to be one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations.

The cenotaph of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo

Established in 1998, The Museum of disABILITY History is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. Current exhibitions examine the history of eugenics in America, the evolution of adaptive equipment and mobility aids and a look at the role of disabled people in popular culture. The museum also looks at the challenges and achievements of people with disabilities over the past 200 years.

The Killing Fields Memorial Museum, Cambodia

Founded by Dara Duong, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge atrocities which saw more than 17,000 people killed, the Killing Fields Memorial Museum aims to honour and remember the victims and survivors of genocide, educate others about the grim history and help preserve the art and literature of the country. The museum also acts as a fundraising channel for humanitarian, cultural and educational projects benefiting the Cambodian community.

Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City

A self-portrait of Frida Kahlo

The famous Mexican artist was born, lived and died in Casa Azul (Blue House), which is now a museum devoted to her exceptional life. As a politically active bisexual women with a disability, Kahlo produced some of the most famous paintings of the 20th century despite her poor health.

Library of Congress, Washington DC

The reading room of the US Library of Congress, the biggest library in the world

If you’re still struggling to feel inspired, head to the world’s biggest library. Its collection includes millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts and is the main research arm of the US Congress and the home of the US copyright office. The world’s greatest thinkers and historical events are all available for curious minds to access.

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