Photographs that have been taken by homeless people, or of them, will be attached to railings this weekend to highlight the issue of homelessness across the UK.

The outdoor exhibit, Walk a Day in My Shoes, is part of a new display examining attitudes towards the homeless, opening on Saturday at the new St Albans Museum + Gallery.

The Squatlife exhibition is rooted in the discovery of photographs from the 1980s that show the life of squatters in St Albans. The images, taken by Dave Kotula, show life in 50 empty properties across the city and will be displayed alongside the stories of those who inhabited them.

Grae Wall, senior arts development officer of the St Albans Arts Team, says: “When Dave Kotula first sent me copies of his pictures to look at it struck me straight away that here was a piece of hidden history – a story of which many would be unaware. It felt obvious to us as a team that there could be a project there that could include the voices of currently homeless residents alongside those voices and images from the past.”

Squatlife hopes to be one of the most far-reaching exhibitions about homelessness for years, examining both historical and contemporary responses to the state of being homeless. It goes as far back as the 12th century, through Victorian times and the workhouse era and into the 21st century.

“The project is also an opportunity to include a disenfranchised and marginalised community within the creative narrative of the district which is a real priority for us,” adds Grae. “Whilst we want projects to entertain and inform it is also sometimes important that the arts challenge pre-held conceptions and attitudes – that a project asks questions of us as a society – and our hope is that Squatlife will go some way to achieving this.”

Professional photographers have been engaging with people attending Herts Young Homeless to capture snapshots of their lives for the Walk a Day in My Shoes outdoor exhibition. The photos will be on railings in highly visible areas throughout the city centre and also around St Albans Cathedral.

The exhibition will include a Waifs, Vagabonds and Workhouses guided walk around St Albans and arts and crafts workshops for children throughout the summer holidays.

The St Albans Arts Team is collaborating with many partners to put on this exhibition and associated events. The celebrated Whitechapel Theatre company, Cardboard Citizens, will work with the homeless or recently homeless from the district to create a performance at the Abbey Theatre (July 27).

Charities are also involved, including Herts Young. Homeless, which helps around 3,000 young people every year who are faced with the challenge of being left to ‘sofa surf’ with no permanent home. The St Albans Arts Team is also working with Emmaus, Open Door/Hightown Housing Association, Centre 33 and the St Albans Film Festival.

Squatlife will be taking place at the new, which opened in June following a two-year restoration of the city’s Georgian Grade II* listed Town Hall, and has already welcomed more than 50,000 visitors (10,000 a week on average).

Opening times and details of St Albans Museum + Gallery can be found at