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Celebrate International Women’s Day at National Museums Liverpool

6 March 2018 by Laura

National Museums Liverpool is marking International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March) with a programme of free exhibitions and events on the day and the following weekend (Saturday 10 and 11 March).

Through exhibitions, talks, workshops and poetry there are a variety of ways for everyone to get involved and celebrate this important date.

Gallery

‘Taking Liberties’ at Museum of Liverpool

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Rethinking Disability Symposium

6 March 2018 by Laura

People in exhibition

Visitors in The Blind School exhibition

We’re looking forward to hosting Rethinking Disability on Friday 9 March. A symposium for the museums and galleries sector, the aim is to bring together individuals committed to creating to bringing about real and lasting change.

Esther Fox, Head of Accentuate said:

“We know that Museums and Galleries are wanting to support better access and representation for deaf and disabled people. We also know there have been significant strides towards this over the last 10 years. However we still have a long way to go and we are not at the point where inclusive practice is the norm. This event provides an opportunity for people to share, learn and most importantly challenge thinking, encouraging people to take more risks.”

The symposium is part of History of Place, a national project run by Accentuate, which explores 800 years of disability history through eight different sites around the UK.  Read more…

International Women’s Day with the Women’s Institute

5 March 2018 by Matt

This week we are celebrating International Women’s Day at the Museum of Liverpool.  We are proud to say that we will be delivering an event on 10 March with the local Women’s Institute.  Claire from the WI tells us more –

“To celebrate International Women’s Day and the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, Central Liverbirds Women’s Institute will be hosting a stand in the museum on Saturday 10 March from 1pm to 4pm. We will be giving short talks on four inspirational women who have impacted the lives of women on Liverpool and nationwide, as well as inviting people to meet our members and learn about our organisation and our local group.

We will be wearing period clothes while delivering our short talks on the four pioneering women: Mary Bamber, Bessie Braddock, Eleanor Rathbone and Kitty Wilkinson. All four women have strong links to Liverpool, and all individually and actively campaigned for women’s rights.

As members of the Women’s Institute, itself an organisation set up to help women in 1915 during the First World War, we think this a fabulous opportunity to link the work the WI has done over the years to celebrations of women gaining the vote and International Women’s Day. From the very beginning through its government sponsorship the WI helped to educate women in rural areas, helping them grow and preserve food to boost food supplies for the nation during the war. Our organisation has developed considerably over the years but education and skill sharing are at its heart as well as campaigning for issues that concern our members.

To be engaged in these activities on 10 March is a privilege and as a group which seeks to improve the lives of women all over the world we recognise the importance of the occasion.  We are delighted to share in the celebrations of these important dates, and the milestones in women’s rights. Most of all we look forward to sharing the lives of these very special women with their strong links to Liverpool and whose impact is still felt in our lives today.”

A proposal with Pride!

2 March 2018 by Kay

Navy uniform hat, paper flowers and wedding photo in museum display case

Navy uniform hat, paper flowers and wedding photo in museum display case

We have recently added some fantastic new items to our community case in the Tales from the city exhibition. This case enables us to reveal LGBT+ stories not represented in the exhibition, which people contact us about and would like to share.

The items were very kindly loaned by Emma and Ann Miller-McCaffrey and tell the story of their relationship.  Read more…

World Book Day: leafing through our collections

For World Book Day, we’re celebrating all things literary. From some of the world’s earliest writing to botanical books that hold precious specimens, explore books and writing in its many forms across World Museum’s diverse collections.

Cuneiform tablet

Cuneiform script is one of the world’s earliest systems of writing and was first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia around 3500-30000 BC. It’s likely that cuneiform was created not for scripture, literature or letters, but for accountancy. This clay tablet is inscribed with administrative text giving a list of supplies for a possible construction project at a location away from, but near the ancient city of Umma. The inscription reads: [Obverse] 90000 litres of barley (by the measure of) Agade 18000 + 9000 litres of salt 1200 litres of lard 900 small brick moulds [Reverse] 12000 litres of straw (from) Umma Naidmahras the scribe carried it away year 2 month 7.

Codex Fejéváry-Mayer

Dating back to AD 1200-152, the Codex Fejéváry-Mayer is one of the most precious and remarkable artefacts to have survived from the time before Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, in 1521. This sacred or ‘dream’ book is a condensed or ritualised version of reality which deals with fundamental human experiences. It is made from deer hide folded into 23 pages and painted with pictograms rather than words derived from an alphabet. The Codex portrays a ‘map’ of the cosmos, a series of gods, a calendar system known as day counts associated with the maize harvest, and long-distance traders. Aside from its literary and artistic merit, it was used for education and to make assessments of the future.

Book of the Dead

This ancient Egyptian collection of spells was designed to guide the recently deceased through the obstacles of the underworld, ultimately enabling them to achieve eternal life. Almost 200 spells survive, though no one collection contains all of them. The final hurdle was to be judged at the court of Osiris. Here, a person’s heart was removed and weighed by the god Anubis against a feather which represented truth. A light heart meant an honest life and entry to the afterlife. Djedhor’s Book of the Dead can be seen in full for the first time in our Ancient Egypt gallery.

Botanical books

The botany department at World Museum houses an extensive botanical library, with books containing specimens of national and international significance. World Museum’s botany collections are particularly rich in material from some of the pioneer explorations of the world’s flora, dating back to the late 1700s and are still being added to today. Liverpool’s worldwide links as a port are highlighted in the collections which hold a wide geographic spread.

A journey through the Han Dynasty in ten objects

28 February 2018 by Jennifer Grindley

The Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) was one of the longest surviving Chinese dynasties and rivalled the almost contemporary, but smaller Roman Empire. Following a period of civil war after the succession of Qin Shi Huang’s son in the Qin Dynasty, rebel leader Liu Bang defeated his rivals and became Han Gaozu, the First Emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. Spanning more than 400 years with only minor interruptions, the Dynasty was charaterised by significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, astronomy and literature which can still be felt in China today.

Explore this golden age of Chinese history through some of the objects that feature in our China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors exhibition:

Terracotta cavalrymen and horses

The rulers of the Han Dynasty followed in the footsteps of the Qin kings and showed a strong belief in gods, spirits and the afterlife. Discoveries so far suggest that, like the First Emperor of China, they had armies of terracotta warriors and horses to protect them, as well as servants, entertainers and animals. These cavalrymen and horses are two of more than 500 figures buried near the tomb of a general at Yangjiawan. Originally, the cavalrymen held the reins in one hand and a weapon in the other, and details of the saddles, harnesses and bridles were painted on the figures with bright colours.

Animal mask

People decorated many objects with images of wild and mysteries animals during the Qin and Han periods. In the Han Dynasty, the animal mask became a popular motif used to decorate the handles of various objects such as doors, vessels and coffins. This ornamental handle was probably attached to a coffin, and is missing a bronze ring which would have hung from the mouth of the creature.

Jade disc

A comparison of major tombs dating from the Spring and Autumn Period (771 – 476 BC) to the Han Dynasty, reveal a great increase in the use of jade between the third and second centuries BC. Jade was more valuable than gold as it was strongly associated with immortality, and its use was restricted to the highest members of society. Coffins of high-ranking individuals were embellished with protective jade discs such as this one which is the largest ever discovered in China. The hole in the centre of the disc is designed to allow the spirit of the deceased to travel in and out.

Pottery model of a well

Models of buildings and real-life objects such as houses, granaries, cooking stoves and wells were very popular in the Han Dynasty, and were produced specifically for burial in tombs. This was not the life-sized world of the scale created by China’s First Emperor, but miniature versions of the world the deceased had lived in. In modern China, many people still believe in the afterlife and worship their ancestors in cemeteries or at home. They buy miniature paper models of servants, horses, houses, cars, money and even iPhones as offerings for their relatives so they can enjoy their life in the next world.

Gold ingots

Emperors used gold ingots as gifts to reward their subjects or as gold reserves to store their wealth. Many ingots were stamped or engraved with inscriptions such as family names or good luck messages, and more than 400 gold ingots dating to the Han Dynasty have been found in China so far.

Pottery zun 樽 wine container

Containers of this shape were made to store liquors such as wine. Ancient Chinese wine was made from fermented grain and rice wine is still one of the most popular drinks in China today. This green glazed pottery ‘zun’ is decorated with cloud designs around the sides. Its lid is in the shape of a mountain; probably representing the mythical ‘Isles of the Immortals’.

Tomb doorway

It was common for wealthy individuals to have a stone door built at the entrance of their tomb which was carved with images of mythical creatures to guard against evil spirits. On the lintel at the top of this doorway, the sun is shown on the right as a red circle with a black bird, while the moon appears as a circle on the left. Together with the clouds depicted on the doorframe, they represent a celestial space high above the human realm. Images of dancing figures and chariots on the doorframe illustrate the activities at the tomb site during the ceremonial service. Two immortals in black at the top on each side of the doorframe are poised ready to guide the deceased to heaven.

Coins with Greek script

Bearing Parthian-style Greek inscriptions on one side and decorated with a Han-style dragon on the reverse, these coins offer a glimpse into the cultural exchange between China, Greece and Central Asia via the Silk Road. The establishment of this huge network of trade routes linking China to the Mediterranean extended over 7,000 kilometres and created new opportunities for Chinese merchants who traded silk, lacquerware and salt in exchange for gold, jade, silver, ivory, glass, spices and exotic goods.

Brass incense burner

Up until the Han Dynasty, people burned fragrant plants as incense. In later times, it became more common to heat scented wood with charcoal. Exotic incense imported via the Silk Road became one of the most expensive goods traded in the Han Dynasty.

Discover more fascinating objects from the Han Dynasty at our landmark exhibition, China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors which runs from 9 February until 28 October 2018.

It’s a kind of magic

22 February 2018 by Chrissy Partheni

Roman religion, especially during early Imperial times, was to a great extent formal and public, with organised rituals and hierarchies of divinity and priesthood. But there were also popular cults and informal religious practices and beliefs, like the ones represented in our collection of magical gem stones.  Read more…

Out of the rubble

19 February 2018 by Ashley Cooke

One of my favourite parts of being a curator is the detective work done in storerooms, archives and libraries. I really enjoy making a match between an object and an archive reference. This is incredibly useful when you’re curating a collection that was devastated by a fire in the Second World War. Many objects salvaged from the ruins of the museum were no longer marked with an accession number – the unique number that links object with documentation. Objects were reassigned new numbers but they had lost their ‘identity’.  Without the original number we can’t easily identify an object in the archives that record its history. Their ‘biography’ was stripped away by the fire. We don’t know who donated it to the museum or where and when it was excavated. Sadly, without that background story, it becomes a little bit less of an object. Read more…

Who was China’s First Emperor?

16 February 2018 by Jennifer Grindley

China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, was born on this day (18 February) in 259 BC – that’s 2,277 years ago! Famed for his army of terracotta warriors built to protect him for eternity, the Emperor is also one of the most controversial figures in history. Seen as a visionary by some and a tyrant by others, his achievements in such a short space of time were nevertheless remarkable and far-reaching. On his birthday, we take a closer look at the life of the man at the heart of our landmark exhibition.  Read more…

Whose painting is it anyway?

16 February 2018 by Ann Bukantas

Some of this year’s jurors in the current John Moores past prizewinners’ display

We are half way through the selection process for the John Moores Painting Prize 2018, the year in which we celebrate the competition’s 60th anniversary. The first stage of selection took place last month, when the jury met to decide upon the shortlist of paintings that will be brought to Liverpool for the intense few days that make up the Stage 2 selection.

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.