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Election! Britain Votes – the place to be for this year’s general election

And the national museum in Manchester couldn’t have picked a better year as the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government will come to a close after five years and Labour and UKIP will be wrestling for votes. Will we have another coalition or will there be an outright winner?

The People’s History Museum, home of the country’s largest collection of campaign, political and election material, will be the place to find out with debates, discussions and reflections on the importance of your vote.

Election! Britain Votes, opens on Saturday 14 February and will also chart the history of general elections over the past 100 years and explain the mechanics of the voting process.

Liberal postcard from 1906

Using its comprehensive array of objects the museum will include an object from every general election, from 1900 to 2010. From posters to plates to pipes, Election! will be a whirlwind history of voting in modern Britain.

Constituency maps, a live polling monitor and ‘seats to watch’ updates are just some of the ways visitors can follow the story as it unfolds.

A live feed of political odds and evolving data will be screened, giving insight into political attitudes and behaviour for 2015. A series of debates will also be taking place, with talks from guests including YouGov President Peter Kellner, political broadcaster Michael Crick, and Professors Philip Cowley and Steven Fielding of Nottingham University, the exhibition’s curatorial advisor.

Artist-in-residence Alex Gardner will be making visual sense of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of elections, demystifying the process with installations and infographs exploring everything from how votes are counted to what a typical MP looks like.

A leaflet from 1929

Posters, photographs, media clippings and personal objects representing each election of the 20th and 21st centuries will include a Labour leaflet from 1929, dubbed ‘the Flapper election’, when for the first time women were able to vote on equal terms with men and the image of this ‘fashionable new voter’ dominated propaganda; and a Communist poster from 1945 (when Winston Churchill suffered a surprise defeat to Labour’s Clement Attlee following World War II), highlighting public wariness that the Conservatives would not introduce a welfare state and instead allow mass unemployment to return.

Labour leaflet from 1910

As part of Election! Britain Votes, the People’s History Museum will be running a programme of community and youth engagement activities to empower, inspire and educate new and young voters. “At a time when the number of people voting is declining and trust in democracy falters, we wanted to create something that would bring the excitement of the election to life and make it really relatable," said Curator Chris Burgess.

"From the rate of minimum wage to how our bins are collected, almost everything we do is politically determined. Our mission is to challenge people to think about the power of their vote and find their voice in 2015.”

Election! Britain Votes opens in Manchester on Saturday, 14 February and runs until Sunday, 28 June and entry is free.