On Friday 10 October, a new multi-media display Now + then: Three Decades of HIV in Merseyside will open at the Museum of Liverpool. The display forms part of the 2014 Homotopia festival.
Now + then uncovers how local people and communities have responded to the challenges of HIV from the 1980s to the present day. The display will include a new powerful short film, interviews, photography and objects, all exploring people’s own remarkable stories and experiences.
Located in The People’s Republic gallery, the display highlights an important chapter in Merseyside’s history of activism. Merseyside’s communities were among the first nationally to respond to the 1980s crisis of ‘AIDS’. Liverpool’s pioneering drug harm reduction and needle exchange schemes became internationally renowned as the Mersey Model.
Kay Jones, Curator of Community History at National Museums Liverpool said: “It has been incredibly rewarding to work closely with Sahir House to help reveal this untold part of our history. We hope that the display will educate and raise awareness of HIV, which could affect anyone in our local community”.
Andrew has been living with HIV for 30 years and lost many people to late stage HIV, previously known as ‘AIDS’. He said: “Back in the 80s if you didn’t see someone for a few weeks you would assume the worst. I remember funerals happening every week. Although much has changed since then, the film included in the display shows the impact that an HIV diagnosis can have on a person’s life whether it was 30 years ago, 30 months or 30 days.”
Now + then was created by Sahir House – Merseyside and North Cheshire’s HIV charity – in collaboration with Soft Octopus Design Studio and Thinking Film, as part of the Museum of Liverpool’s partnership programme Our City, Our Stories. The display is the culmination of a wider two-year project, funded by the Heritage Lottery.
The idea for the project came from service users and volunteers at Sahir House who felt it was important to record people’s own stories about HIV and Merseyside before they were lost forever.
In 2012 the Museum of Liverpool hosted a community meeting to develop ideas for the project. Following this Sahir House successfully bid for £76,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Since the first community meeting, the Museum of Liverpool has provided a base for Now + then public events.
Early supporters of the project were Liverpool Archives and the North West Sound Archive, as the oral testimonies and archive materials collected during the project will form two new nationally significant archive collections.