IMG_3997aThe Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester, in collaboration with Manchester Art Gallery, Archives+ and Belle Vue Productions is leading on a programme of research related to the spontaneous memorials of the Manchester Arena attack.

This research includes:

Documenting, archiving and using Manchester Arena’s spontaneous memorials

The University of Manchester is working with Manchester Art Gallery and Archives+ in developing a collecting policy and documentation and access plan for the archive.

Between November 2017 and May 2018, postgraduate students from the Art Galleries and Museums studies MA programme at the University of Manchester have undertaken a pilot documentation of a sample of the  Manchester Together Archive. Lessons learnt from the pilot will be applied to the full documentation of the Archive.

Reflecting on archiving practices of Manchester Arena’s spontaneous memorials


This strand of work investigates the processes, agents and outputs of creating, documenting and using an archive of Manchester Arena’s spontaneous memorials. It also examines the impact that the management of spontaneous memorials is having on cultural professional and local authority practices and policy-making.

“We’ve worked side by side with the Institute for Cultural Practices, documenting the process of creating this archive, recording the decision making process and how our own feelings and understanding of these objects has evolved over time. We wanted to make sure that this process was very open and that we are able to learn from this and to share that process with other people that are facing similar issues in the future.”

– Amanda Wallace, Deputy Director, Manchester Art Gallery

Building an international network of spontaneous memorials’ archives

image of objects in the spontaneous memorials in Barcelona after the 17th August 2017 terrorist attack
Spontaneous memorial in Barcelona after the 17th August 2017 terrorist attack

The Network of Archives of Spontaneous Memorials brings together individuals and organisations involved in creating, documenting and using archives of spontaneous memorials. It currently includes members related to seven cases of spontaneous memorials that appeared after terrorist attacks or disasters: Barcelona 2017, Brussels 2016, Manchester 2017, Nice 2016, Paris 2015, Shoreham 2015 and Stockholm 2017. It, also, includes representatives of related cultural and archival organisations.

“Questions explored in this research include: the preparedness of city and cultural authorities to respond to the speed, timeframe and public expectations of spontaneous memorials; issues of public participation and co-production; the expansion of the spontaneous memorialisation on digital and social media; how archiving decisions affect the construction and evolution of the memory of the relevant events; and the use of the resulted archive in the context of health and wellbeing of people affected psychologically and/or physically by the events.”

– Dr. Kostas Arvanitis, Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester

Manchester Bee Tattoos

This project aims to document the mass tattooing of the Manchester bee, following the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena. It is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, Belle Vue Productions, photographer Emma Freeman and curator and oral historian Jen Kavanagh.

For more information about any aspect of this research, please contact:

Dr Kostas Arvanitis
Senior Lecturer in Museology
Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester