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William Brown gets a 150th anniversary outing

8 April 2010 by Lisa

Do remember our previous post about the William Brown bust getting a good spring clean? This was part of our World Museum 150th anniversary celebrations on the blog, and we’re continuing the series this week with an update about the bust by our Executive Director of Collections Management, John Millard.


White marble bust of a man's head and shoulders

William Brown in his new home

For as long as anyone can remember a marble bust of William Brown has languished in a store at the Walker Art Gallery, and it didn’t look very happy.  It got some careful attention at our National Conservation Centre and now it has finally been put on show.

The bust features in a special display in the atrium of World Museum.  It commemorates the 150th anniversary of William Brown handing over Liverpool’s museum and library building to the Lord Mayor of the city in 1860.  Brown spent £40,000 on the building of the museum and library, and the street was renamed William Brown Street in thanks for his generosity.

A timeline in the display shows key events on the museum’s long history, and a case shows the marble bust and two copies of a rare medal struck in honour of William Brown in 1860.

Sunny Cheung, from our design department, designed and installed the graphics.  Pete Spinks and Bill Sillitoe, from the technical services team, then carefully brought in the bust of William Brown on what looked like a hospital trolley!  Meanwhile the museum’s atrium was thronged with visitors enjoying the spectacle as we struggled to unlock the case (that took three designers) and wrestled an old display out of the case.

It is interesting that in the photos of William Brown he is show wearing wire-rimmed glasses, but the sculpture shows him in the dress of an ancient Roman and not wearing glasses. Perhaps the sculptor thought he looked better without them!

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