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Posts by Richard

Keep on smiling

17 July 2009 by Richard

crowd in front of the Mona Lisa

Hello there

Thank you to everybody who voted for the International Slavery Museum in The National Lottery Good Causes Awards. We find out if we have made it through to the final on 3 August so watch this space. If we do make it through to the live TV show then I’ll have to get my suit down to Johnson’s, dig out my Homer Simpson tie and practice my TV smile!

Talking of smiles (now that is a good link) I saw the most famous in the world recently whilst I was on a weekend break to Paris. We spent nearly a whole day in the Louvre and ‘tried’ to get a close look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ or ‘La Gioconda’ (an alternative title as the sitter is probably the wife of an Italian merchant called Francesco del Giocondo). As you can see from the picture the Mona Lisa draws crowds of visitors most museums can only dream of. It really is a sight to behold although there is hardly any room to stand and admire the picture as people are busy barging past. As a museum professional I am almost as interested in the behavior of the visitor as much as the collections themselves though. Don’t expect to be able to stand in front of her and act like an art connoisseur but still worth the effort if you ever visit. Read more…

It could be us!

30 June 2009 by Richard

logo with text 'National Lottery Awards. Celebrating the difference you've made'

Hello there

We’ve had some really good news – the International Slavery Museum has been shortlisted for a National Lottery Good Causes award under the Best Heritage Project category. If you are a regular reader of my blog or indeed this is your first time, we need your vote to make it into the final. Votes can be made online by visiting the National Lottery Good Causes website or by telephone on 0844 686 6957 (calls costs 5p from BT land lines and as they say on TV don’t forget to ask an adult or whoever pays the bills!!).  Voting ends Friday 10 July. Every vote counts so we really do appreciate your support. I realise that blog readers are located around the globe (as well as my dear old Yorkshire) so please tell friends, family members and colleagues. Read more…

That Obama feeling – hope not hate

8 June 2009 by Richard

exterior of the 'Obamabar'

Obama mania hits Antwerp

Hello there

One of the most unexpected but satisfying things I have seen in my recent travels has to be during a trip to Antwerp when I was invited to speak at the ‘What’s in a name? Knowledge and Research in Museums’ symposium held in the library of the Rubens Museum. It was organised by MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) which opens in 2010. MAS staff members as well as speakers from Amsterdam (such as the National Maritime Museum and the Tropenmuseum), London (Museum of London and Greenwich Maritime Institute) and my good self presented a series of papers explaining how knowledge, information and research is dispersed within their institutions.   Read more…

Going green in Bursa

21 May 2009 by Richard

dancers in traditional Turkish costume performing energetically

Civic welcome in Bursa, Turkey

Hello there

As you can see from the photo, I’ve been travelling again, this time to Bursa in northwestern Turkey, a three hour plus minibus ride (plus a ferry crossing) from Istanbul. The reason for this exciting venture was that the International Slavery Museum had been shortlisted for the very prestigious European Museum of the Year Award, awarded by the European Museum Forum to a museum which offers an excellent example of innovation in museums.

Well I will not keep you in suspense; we did not win the top prize, which went to Salzburg Museum in Austria. There were also three museums who were specially commended, one of which, the Museum of Life Stories in, Speicher, Switzerland I thought particularly worthy. The artist involved in the project, HR Fricker, explained to me that in the public areas of a home for seniors, their lives are shown around them, through exhibits and documentation. This might well challenge people’s view of what a museum is, which I think is a good thing. Of course I was disappointed at not even having been commended (by the amount of people who came up to me afterwards I think we were one of the favourites) but if success is also measured by fellow museum professionals wanting to work with you in the future, then the trip was well worth it.  Read more…

The world of the Peaceful Dragon

30 April 2009 by Richard

photo of tree blossom overhanging the wall of a gravel garden

Ryoanji Zen garden


Well I am back at work after my break in Japan, as interesting and exciting a destination as I have ever visited. It really is a mix of the old and the new and this cannot be better personified than the city of Kyoto. I spent 5 days in Tokyo, truly a metropolis of bright lights, fashionistas and the latest gadgetry but Kyoto – what some call the cultural heart of Japan – is where the clash of worlds is most obvious. As soon as you step off the Bullet train you enter Kyoto’s futuristic looking plate glass and steel frame rail station building designed by Hiroshi Hara. The Bullet train really is as efficient as you are told and quite a shock for someone used to British trains when your reserved carriage actually stops in front of you and on time. I can only hope a contingent of British rail carriers executives have their next annual conference in Japan and invite the CEO of Japan Rail as the keynote! The area around the station has hotels, offices and shops aplenty like most major cities but scratch under the surface and there lies a hidden world of temples and Zen gardens of all shapes and descriptions. Read more…

In memory of John Hope Franklin

2 April 2009 by Richard

It is with great sadness that I pass on the sad news of the death last week of John Hope Franklin, one of the most important American historians of the 20th century and a great advocate of the International Slavery Museum. The museum was fortunate enough to have been visited by John Hope Franklin in 2007 and it was an honour personally to be able to interview this great man, one who more than most strove towards a word free from racism and discrimination. It speaks for itself when messages of condolence are sent from current President Obama as well as Bill Clinton (who awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour, in 1995) and a host of other eminent historians and scholars.  Read more…

Achievers and believers

26 March 2009 by Richard

group of people by three plaques on a museum wall

Black achievers plaque unveiling

Hello there

Well before anyone sends me an accusatory email I will admit I am not the world’s best blogger! Strange really considering I constantly annoy my colleagues by saying “That would be a great blog picture” or “I can blog this and that” etc.  So I am back and hopefully once again people will read my blog to support my rather bold claim that this is one of the most visited parts of the National Museums Liverpool website. I can hear the laughter coming from the web team office!  Read more…

From Lincoln to Obama

30 January 2009 by Richard

large marble statue of Abraham Lincoln

A picture of the Lincoln Memorial from my trip to Washington DC last year

Hello there.

Well unless you have been living on another planet recently who could not have been gripped by the momentous events when Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. First he is a loving father, a skilled politician, an inspirational leader and role model, who is married to a strong successful and supportive partner, he also happens to be the first African American President. A truly great achievement, especially in a nation that less than 60 years ago had separate seating on buses – white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front rows, whereas Black people who boarded the bus had to sit on the back rows (a certain Rosa Parks disagreed) and where the Jim Crow Laws were in place which segregated everything from schools to public parks and transportation, with a “separate but equal” status for Black Americans. Read more…

Looking ahead

12 January 2009 by Richard

photo of water dripping from a hand creating ripples in water below

‘Each drop is important for us…’ – one of the stunning photographs from the Shoot Nations exhibition. Copyright Shoot Nations.

Hello there

Well I hope you all had a happy holiday period and managed to relax. I certainly did. I spent several days back home in dear old Yorkshire. Always nice to catch up with the family.

The International Slavery Museum has an exciting series of events and programmes throughout the year, from a US Black History Month event in February to Slavery Remembrance Day in August. We also have Shoot Nations, an exciting new photographic exhibition focusing on global environmental issues through the eyes of young people, starting on 17 January. This is one of a series of exhibitions which highlight issues in the museum galleries – from global inequalities to racism, discrimination and identity. So watch this space for news about upcoming exhibitions. Read more…

What a year!

24 December 2008 by Richard

Hello there
Well what a momentous year for the museum it has been.   Where shall I start?  Well how about the fact we have had over 500,000 visitors since we opened, which makes us one of the most visited museums outside of London in a very short space of time.  We launched our exhibitions programme with ‘We are one’ that celebrated and reflected on the International Slavery Museum’s first year and were visited by well known personalities and advocates such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the footballer Lillian Thuram, Doreen Lawrence, Floella Benjamin and the noted academic Eric Foner and a host of other dignitaries.   The year continued as it had finished in 2007 with a high level of media interest from around the world.  Probably the most high profile was a live link from the museum for the Today Show which has over 6 million viewers.  I was interviewed by Al Roker for several minutes so no pressure then!  Thankfully I did not make any gaffs. Read more…

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