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Moon explorations!

Image of the crescent of the moon

From the Dark Side – László Francsics

“O, swear not by the moon, the fickle moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circle orb…”

Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)

Think about your living room. The items on a shelf, or a table. How often do you look at them, really look at them?

You know there’s a photo of you and a friend, or there’s a statue that Auntie Edwina gave you tucked in a corner. You know they’re there, but you’re so used to them that you barely give them a second glance. Could you, without looking, describe them? The colours, the pose, the material, or would you have to think really hard? It’s amazing how when we get used to something, we become blasé about it, not giving it a second thought.

We tend to do this with the moon. We know it’s there. Occasionally we might notice it when it’s bright and full, or if a story appears about a ‘super-moon’. How often do you look for it in the daytime? Or when it’s a thin crescent or a half moon? Read more…

My favourite ship in a bottle

27 June 2019 by Jen

Bottle containing small figure seated at a table making a ship in bottle

My favourite ship in a bottle from our collections. MMM.1998.72.16

There are so many beautiful ships in bottles (and indeed in lightbulbs, matchboxes, globes and other interesting alternatives) in our collections that picking a favourite isn’t easy. However there is one in particular that stands out to me which has just recently gone out on display. We have dozens of ships in bottles in our collections but the majority of them come from one source, a gentleman who collected and made these fabulous objects, Arthur George Maltravers (‘Jo’) Dashwood-Howard. It was one of his own creations that particularly caught my eye, a ship-in-a-bottle-maker in a bottle.

Model of a man making a ship in a bottle

Close up of the miniature model maker.

In this beautiful object we can see a little man sat at a table in a workshop, a tiny ship in bottle being worked on in front of him and a larger ship model on the workshop floor. If you look very closely, there’s even a tiny ditty bag bearing the initials ADH (Arthur Dashwood Howard), suggesting that the model is in fact a wonderfully unusual form of self-portrait. Dashwood-Howard has used his skill to portray himself at work on one of his wonderful miniature creations. Read more…

National Museums Liverpool flies the flag for Human Rights

26 June 2019 by Sahar Beyad

This year marks 70 years since the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It was drafted in 1948, with no more than 50 countries getting involved – and today, we have over 190 who have co-signed this much needed legal text. And never before has this been such a vital piece of affirmation, than now in present day. When there is so much uncertainty in the world. Whether it’s politics, war, and economy – we need voices to stand up for basic rights now more than ever!

I was so happy to learn that National Museums Liverpool was taking part in the anniversary of the human right declaration. This year, to mark the occasion, artist and activist Ai Weiwei designed the flag which seems simple and unassuming at first glance, but then inspecting in detail, the footprint, which has lots of tiny white dots, actually represents those who are fleeing conflict – who are often barefoot – with nothing but the shirt (if) on their backs. It was inspired by a recent trip he took to the Rohingya refugee camp – this therefore became the symbol of the human struggle.

Ai Weiwei with the flag he designed

Across National Museums Liverpool, we have an array of programmes, events and exhibitions that give the voiceless and voice, and portray images of unity, peace and demonstrate our efforts to strive for a better world. Read more…

What next for human remains collections at the World Museum?

19 June 2019 by Emma Martin

Emma Martin, Senior Curator at World Museum introducing the discussion with a copy of the Human Remains policy that is currently being reviewed. Left to right: Angela Stienne, Constantine Eliopoulous, Ashley Cooke, Ben Jones and Chrissy Partheni. Image by Donna Young

This is a guest blog by Angela Stienne (Science Museum, London) who recently chaired two public debates on human remains in museums at World Museum for the #WMWhereNext initiative.

On Friday 17 May, World Museum hosted two public debates on human remains in museums, as part of the LightNight Liverpool festival. The aim of these debates was to probe public opinion on the retention and display of human remains in museums through votes via smartphones, but also to engage the public in a convivial conversation on a very important topic for the museum: what next for human remains collections at the World Museum? I was invited by the World Museum to moderate the debate, as part of my Medicine Galleries Research Fellowship at the Science Museum, which focuses on human remains in the 21st century museum. I am here sharing some thoughts on this very inspiring and thoughtful evening, and what this means for the future of engagements with human remains in museums. Read more…

John – evacuee and media star!

18 June 2019 by Kay

Our new exhibition, Blitzed: Liverpool Lives brings together dramatic images of Blitz-damaged Liverpool alongside evocative spoken memories of people who experienced the aerial bombardment first-hand. One of those people is John McEwan. John grew up in Salisbury Street, Everton and was evacuated after his family had a very close shave. John’s is one of many interviews in our Liverpool Voices archive which I spent many hours listening to and selecting highlights to be included in the exhibition.

John was invited to our press call the day before the exhibition opened to be interviewed by the local media. Just before it began I had the pleasure of showing him around the exhibition. He listened to the audio of himself in the central ‘cinema area’ and read his quote I used to bring to life a photograph of children outside of bombed homes. It brought back lots of memories for him and he was an absolute pro, recalling many experiences for Radio Merseyside, The Guide Liverpool, Liverpool Echo, Culture Liverpool, Wirral Globe etc.

Read this transcript of John’s audio in the exhibition –
“My dad would be home on leave and he heard sirens and the blackout was on and he made his way home expecting to find my mother and the three children, Betty, Tommy and myself in the air raid shelter.   When he went to the air raid shelter we weren’t there. He then went to the house and my mum was under the kitchen table, or under the dining table, with the three children.   Obviously my dad was very concerned about this. I don’t know exactly what went on other than the fact that the decision was made to evacuate us.  My mother was also pregnant at the time with my younger brother Peter, who is a year younger than myself. And as a result the three children, myself, Betty and Tommy were evacuated to St Joseph’s Children’s Home in Freshfield near Southport, and that would be sometime in 1940, in around maybe the autumn of 1940. Read more…

Are we there yet? School trip on the Liverpool Overhead Railway remembered

17 June 2019 by Sharon

Dorothy is one of the stars of the Liverpool Overhead Railway gallery. Her story of a school trip on the railway ends with her being given a mystery fruit (which turned out to be a pineapple) by a docker on the return journey. The story is based on one told to me when I did a talk many years ago and I adapted it to use in the gallery.

Now we have more evidence of the fun and excitement of a school trip on the iconic overhead railway! A few weeks ago we were contacted by a lady whose friend was a teacher in Liverpool in 1949 and had taken her class on a trip on the LOR. She still had her plan for the day and some reviews of the trip written by her pupils. They have been very kindly donated to the museum and hand-delivered (by her friend Jan) all the way from Derbyshire.

Miss Ireland was a student teacher and recorded arrangements for the trip including the cost of 6 ½ d per child, plus 3d bus fare. Crossville put on an extra bus to take the 45 children from their school, Forefield Lane in Crosby, to Seaforth Sands Station on the LOR. Here the children were met by a guide who explained all the sights to them as they travelled along to Gladstone Dock Station were they got off the train.

On their tour of the dock they marvelled at all the products they were shown; crates of pineapples and coconuts, rubber, hides, hemp and huge teak logs, and were delighted to hear about the baby elephants, mongoose and snakes that had arrived the previous week! Read more…

Behind the Scenes with Africa Oye

12 June 2019 by Sarah

Africa Oye 2014 – copyright Mark McNulty

We are always looking for new projects for our Student Ambassadors to work on. And this is what our Ambassador, and this week’s guest blogger, Laila Waraich has been working on most recently:

As part of my participation in the Ambassadors programme at the International Slavery Museum, I recently had the opportunity to meet with Dave McTague, part of the team at the Africa Oyé festival.

Although originally I had wanted to meet Dave to find out about the impact of Africa Oyé for a feature in an educational card game we are producing, ‘Civil Rights and Freedom Fights,’ I ended up discovering much more than I expected about the intricacies of producing an event like this, and it’s great cultural importance in Liverpool. Read more…

Sergeant Cyril Askew

10 June 2019 by Karen O'Rourke

Cyril wearing lots of medals

Cyril proudly wearing his Legion of Honour medal above his Second World War campaign medals. Image courtesy of the King’s Regiment Association.

This guest blog by Major (Retired) Eddie McMahon TD continues our series of blogs commemorating D-Day.

“Cyril Lancelot Askew enlisted with the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment in 1935 and served in the Second World War. Unusually, he served on both the Eastern and Western fronts. His service is described in an earlier blog and in a display at the Museum of Liverpool.

I first met Sergeant Cyril Askew in 1975, while I was still serving with the King’s, before I became involved with the Regimental Association. I was intrigued by this interesting man kitted out in his Corps of Commissioners uniform, proudly wearing his medal ribbons. The Corps was set up to help ex-servicemen into employment after demobilisation and Cyril had welcomed people at many of Liverpool’s amazing buildings, including the Three Graces and The Liverpool Empire.

I listened to him talk about patrolling the dangerous Khyber Pass territory in India, or coming under heavy German fire in the weeks after D-Day while pushing inland. Read more…

Volunteers Week spotlight – Sarah from our Board of Trustees

7 June 2019 by Rachel O'Malley

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. To celebrate Volunteers Week we are meeting more volunteers as part of a bumper Volunteer Spotlight series so we can really celebrate the different contributions that our amazing volunteers make.

Volunteering comes in many forms, especially here at National Museums Liverpool. From Education to our Finance department, but we even have volunteers at senior level. Our Board of Trustee’s all support the organisation in their own time and are passionate about culture and museums, as well as the Liverpool City Region. Trustees offer useful and practical advice to our Executive Team regarding the organisation’s strategies, as well as smaller meetings with departments regarding specific issues.

Sarah Dean is one of the most recent additions to the Board of Trustees; her day to day role is as a senior member of the finance team at the Grosvenor Estate Family Office, but she has been a keen volunteer since her teenage years. Sarah was a volunteer Expedition Leader and Assessor for the Duke of Edinburgh Award for fifteen years; as well as being a Trustee she is also Chair of Governors at a Cheshire primary school. She rightly said that volunteering is a good thing for you to do, for your mental health and wellbeing and it’s good to be able to give something back. Read more…

Hands-on help

6 June 2019 by Liz

When you think of archaeology what comes to mind? People digging holes? Delicate brushing of soil from objects? Time Team? Indiana Jones?!

Archaeologists explore the past through material culture – the things people made, built and used.  Those things are often excavated, but can also be standing remains of buildings. After an excavation is completed there is a fascinating process of work to undertake back indoors to understand the site and its objects and make sense of the evidence. In June there are opportunities for you to get involved in some workshops to capture information about finds, and label them with their museum reference numbers.

Working with the archaeology team at the Museum of Liverpool volunteers (aged 18 or over) are invited to explore the finds excavated last years at the site of courtyard housing at Oakes Street. Read more…



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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.