During protests against police brutality and racial inequality on 7 June 2020, people left placards at the base of the Colston statue plinth. This was before the statue was pulled down and afterwards.

The following morning, the placards were carefully collected up by Bristol Waste, on the instruction of the Mayor, and a team of four staff from M Shed took them in to the museum. At that time, museums were closed to staff and visitors because of covid precautions.

There had been some light rain so we spread them all out in the studio to dry them out and preserve as many as possible. We gave each placard a temporary number, recorded the wording on them, and photographed each one individually. These were used to document them all on our database.

We also received 9 placards from Avon & Somerset police, which they had recovered as part of a protest a week later by a group claiming to be protecting the cenotaph. A few placards were also delivered to M Shed anonymously.

In total, there were 568 placards, leaflets, pieces of fabric and other items relating to the protests.

Six of the placards were displayed in a consultation display 'The Colston statue: what next?' in 2021-2, alongside the statue, a timeline, and background information.

The placards have been viewed in storage by thousands of people on store tours, research trips, and filming visits.

64 placards have been added to our social history collection. The selection was based on their local interest, visual impact, current language, and particularly relevant social and political references. Our paper conservator has assessed them and stored them appropriately.

Of the remaining placards, 100 were donated to St Pauls Carnival for community outreach projects and for use in the 2023 parade. Others were donated to New Room Museum and Trinity Centre, where they have been used for temporary displays. We have also used placards for museum outreach and learning sessions.