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By Katie Belshaw on

SIM at 50: The ‘Dirty Baby’

In the third in a series of posts celebrating the Science and Industry Museum's 50th anniversary, our curator of industrial heritage, Katie Belshaw, tells us of a childhood visit to the museum that left a lasting impression.
A child at a table drawing
Katie as a child

I’ve been coming to the museum since the early 1990s when I was very small. My favourite thing in the museum was the ‘Dirty Baby’, who was part of the slum housing family recreation in the former Making of Manchester gallery. I was fascinated and terrified in equal measure by the display, which showed the shocking living conditions endured by thousands of people during Manchester’s industrialisation.

A display in a museum depicting Victorian squalor
‘Dirty Baby’ on display in the old Making of Manchester gallery

The museum, and the display in particular, definitely played a part in my decision to specialise in industrial history, and ultimately pursue a career in museums.

When Making of Manchester closed a few years ago and the displays were being removed, my colleagues rescued ‘Dirty Baby’ and I now look after him (he lives in my bottom drawer!) This is probably a bit very odd, but he had an important part to play in my career path, so I think I owe it to him!

A dirty doll in a drawer

A woman holding a dirty doll

All images provided by Katie Belshaw.

2 comments on “SIM at 50: The ‘Dirty Baby’

  1. This made me think about when we once visited the museum when we were at school. You were clearly destined to work there Katie!

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