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Constraint Restraint Exhibition

Constraint Restraint Exhibition

Online Exhibition


Exploring ideas of constraint through historic objects and contemporary art

Constraint  Restraint

 This exhibition grew from a series of conversations about objects in the museum collection that set people’s hearts and minds racing. You’ll see incredible artifacts presented in multiples to encourage scrutiny and comparison. Each one helping us to explore ideas of ‘constraint’ and ‘restraint’; handcuffs, body belts, keys and locks sit beside oppressive prison cell doors and gruesome array of things that have been swallowed by people living in prison.

Hundreds of people were involved in the development of the exhibition and responded to the provocation “what constraints would you like to be free of?” Like the objects themselves the responses portrayed discomfort, frustration and surprise. They challenged our assumptions about the constraints people endure, embrace and fight in their daily lives.

Alongside the historic collection we’re delighted to introduce a compelling sequence of creative interventions by talent artists. You’ll find gentle graphite rubbings, vigorous charcoal drawings, intricate sugar icing sculptures and a fascinating film by our creative partners Lisa Selby, Elliot Murawski, Liz Atkin, Feng-Ru Lee and Nisa Khan.


Letters of Constraint

‘Letters of Constraint’ was an open invitation to write a reflective letter during the Covid-19 lockdown. The generously shared words offer a glimpse of mass societal constraint, told through individual experiences of isolation over a six-week time frame. Read more about the project here.

View our Constraint Restraint 3D virtual exhibition below.


Previous Exhibitions

You can also view our past exhibitions by clicking the links below.

‘Washing, Dancing, Singing: Women Living and Working in Prisons’


National Justice Museum,
High Pavement, ,
View venue