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The king of the gods

19 February 2010 by Lisa

For this week’s look back into the past 150 years of the World Museum, we’re going back to 1959 with Gina Muskett, our Curator of Classical and European collections…


1959 was a very important year for Liverpool Museum, as it was then known. It received a very generous gift – almost 400 classical sculptures from Ince Blundell Hall, north of Liverpool. They were collected in the late 18th century and early part of the 19th century by Henry Blundell, a wealthy farmer and landowner. Even a large house like Ince Blundell hall didn’t have room for his collection, so two new buildings were erected to display the sculptures – the ‘Garden Temple’ and later the ‘Pantheon’. It’s amazing that the group of sculptures survived more or less complete, without being sold or split up.

You can see sculptures from the Ince Blundell collection in two main areas of World Museum – the new case in the atrium, and the Ancient World gallery on the third floor.

Head and shoulders sculpture of a man with horns

Zeus, king of the gods

Regular readers of the blog will already know that I’m very excited about seeing the ‘Ince Athena’ on display in the atrium. She has been joined by another Ince statue, the head and shoulders of Zeus, the king of the gods, shown with the ram horns of the Egyptian god Amun (‘Ammon’ in Greek). Doesn’t he look impressive? The other statue in the case, Narkissos, also arrived in the museum in the 1950s, but is from a different collection.

I hope that you find time during your visit to go to the Ancient World gallery on the third floor. There are four sculptures from the Ince Blundell collection in the new Ancient Greece section. You can’t miss three of them – very large statues of Zeus, Apollo (the god of music and the arts), and the hero Theseus – but see if you can spot the fourth! Here’s a clue – it’s Zeus again, this time on a sculpted panel.

The Ancient Rome section of the gallery has even more sculptures of various types, mostly from the Ince collection. My favourites are the head and shoulders sculptures of women – I love looking at their hairstyles, trying to imagine how much time it would have taken to do such complicated styles. Come to the gallery and see what you think!

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