The Story

The Story of 6 million+

In 2005, Kirklees Council initiated a project to collect over 6 million buttons to illustrate the industrial scale of the Holocaust and other genocides. The public collection began in West Yorkshire, but word soon spread and many of the buttons were collected regionally, nationally and even internationally. Leeds based artist Antonia Stowe was commissioned to design the installation for Huddersfield Art Gallery. 6 million+ had a huge impact on visitors and toured nationally for the next five years to places including Ripon Cathedral and Brent Cross Shopping Centre in London.

The project has involved thousands of young people, community groups and individuals in the process of collecting buttons and thinking about genocide and discrimination. The installation included a film featuring conversations between Holocaust survivors and asylum seekers and poetry written in response to their experiences.

6 million+ has been perceived as:

  • a stunning artwork
  • a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust and more recent genocides
  • a stimulus for discussion about identity and difference
  • an educational tool for students of history, citizenship, art and RE
  • a context in which to think, reflect and make promises to take positive action

“What’s happening to the buttons?”

In 2011, the buttons returned to Huddersfield. Comments written on luggage labels made it clear that thousands of people still felt a sense of ownership of the buttons and expressed a continued interest in their future. In 2013, Kirklees Council, supported by Arts Council England, delivered a research and development project to look at the feasibility of identifying a public site and new design for a permanent memorial sculpture using the buttons.

The project included :

  • commissioned appraisals of 3 potential sites, conducted by landscape architects
  • research trips in England and in Berlin to look at memorials
  • an extensive community consultation programme with local people
  • regular meetings with the 6 million+ Advisory Forum

The result of the site appraisals and community consultation strongly suggested that the University of Huddersfield would be the best location for the memorial sculpture and associated programme of education, community activities and events.

University of Huddersfield concourse

University of Huddersfield concourse