Blog

The year of the dog

15 February 2018 by Scott Smith

February marks the start of the new lunar year, and it’s during this time that millions of people across the world will gather to celebrate Chinese New Year. Starting on 16 February, we’ll have seven days of joyous festivities filled with fireworks, lanterns and revelry as the city is lit up in red.

This year is the beginning of the Year of the Dog, defined by the Chinese zodiac cycle. Dogs are the eleventh sign in the zodiac and are seen as independent, sincere and decisive. Honest and loyal, dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partners. Those born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 all fall under the year of the dog.

To celebrate man’s most faithful of friends, we’ve pulled together a list of dogs from across National Museums Liverpool’s collections and exhibitions.

‘Table d’Hote at a Dogs’ Home’ by John Charles Dollman

Read more…

A little history of LGBT+ love

14 February 2018 by Scott Smith

Saint Valentine’s Day, our National day of love is celebrated by couples around the world. It just so happens that it falls under February, the month that we celebrate LGBT History Month – a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. So, we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight some LGBT+ relationships from history that we think you should know about.

The artworks and objects discussed here are part of National Museums Liverpool’s collections and all relate in some way to intimate relationships between members of the same sex, both real and fictional, which go beyond platonic friendship in some way. All of these partnerships offer, in their own way, an alternative to the type of heterosexual relationship that continues to be socially dominant. Read more…

A Valentine to seafarers

12 February 2018 by Jen

Off-white tile with red printed design showing a woman embracing a sailor with sailing ship in the background.

British Delftware tile, ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’, from National Museums Liverpool’s Decorative Arts collection – M2234 i

Here at the Maritime Museum our curatorial team are busy researching the content for our new Sea Galleries, set to open in 2019 and looking at the lives and experiences of seafarers. I’ve become particularly interested in the effects of separation from one’s family and home, and have been reading through a collection of journals in the Maritime Archives kept by a Captain Porter in the 1860s aboard his ship the Jamna. Read more…

A Wesołych Świąt stranded in the Suez Canal

22 December 2017 by Jen

Large Wooden Christmas Tree floating beside two small boats.

Christmas tree created by Polish seafarers from the Djakarta.  Photograph courtesy of George Wharton.

Christmas on a ship, somewhere hot and sunny, with not a lot to do. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Let’s be honest, after weeks of Christmas preparations (which can make the holiday seem like an awful lot of work) who hasn’t nurtured a secret desire to do it all differently one year and sail off in to the sun?

The Suez Canal however is perhaps not the first place that springs to mind as a Christmas getaway. The Canal is a manmade waterway built in Egypt in the 19th century, an important trade route linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas. In June 1967 years of political tension between Egypt and Israel erupted in what would become known as the Six Day War. Faced with Israeli occupation of the east bank of the Canal, Egypt blocked both ends. Passenger ships in the canal had been allowed to leave but orders were for the cargo vessels to stay put. This left a group of 14 ships stranded in the Great Bitter Lake area of the canal, where they would remain, trapped by obstacles both physical and political, for a further eight years. Read more…

Remembering the loss of the Alfred H Read pilot boat, 1917

20 December 2017 by Ben

The Alfred H. Read pilot boat. From the Norman Morrison Collection, National Museums Liverpool.

Since the Liverpool Pilots Service was created in 1766, the pilots have risked their lives on a daily basis to ensure the safe passage of ships to and from Liverpool.  There are many tales of bravery where a pilot’s actions have saved lives and cargo from disaster.  Unfortunately there are also tales of tragedy, where the Pilot Service laments the loss of one (or many) of their own.  On 28 December 2017, it will be the 100 year anniversary of the worst disaster to befall the Liverpool Pilots.  This was the loss the Alfred H Read pilot boat in 1917.  Read more…

Our advent calendar is going to the dogs!

30 November 2017 by Sam

advent calendar illustration of a winter scene with Liverpool landmarks

With Christmas approaching it’s time for one of my favourite annual traditions – the unveiling of National Museums Liverpool’s free online advent calendar! Each year we ease you into the festive season with daily treats from our collections and displays, including a few surprises, incredible tales and fascinating facts along the way.

Last year’s advent calendar featured cats from our museums and galleries, so to restore balance to the universe, the theme for 2017 is dogs. Read more…

‘Never at Sea’… well, never say never

8 November 2017 by Jen

Cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Mis P.G. Stubbs - 1981.730.6

Uniform cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Miss PG Stubbs – 1981.730.6

It is 1917 and for the last three years war on a scale previously unseen and unimagined has been raging between the European powers. Young men have died by the thousands and the end is still not in sight. Britain is facing a shortage of manpower and finally considering radical measures; to free up men for the front, women will be asked to volunteer with the services to fill non-fighting roles. Read more…

‘Hair-raising’ model made in top secret underground bunker

24 October 2017 by Jen

Small dazzle painted ship model of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Witch in wood framed glass case.

Ship model of HMS Witch. Accession number MMM.1993.69

It’s that time of year again and a chill caused by more than just autumn winds is upon us. Halloween is bearing down fast with its usual accompaniment of pumpkins, ghosts, and of course witches! The ship model you can see here may look fairly innocuous but this is the Royal Naval Destroyer HMS Witch and it’s rigged with real human hair! Read more…

Marilyn’s personal Sankofa journey across the Atlantic

23 October 2017 by Mitty

group photo of smiling people in a car

Marilyn with her activist artist friends

This summer I was fortunate to meet Marilyn Young, when she made her second visit to Liverpool. Marilyn is an independent researcher from the US, whose interest in Black diasporic communities has taken her all over the world.

In this guest blog, Marilyn describes how retracing cities along the Atlantic has led to her personal Sankofa journey.

“I was born in the state of Alabama so naturally I’m familiar with the topic of the transatlantic slave trade. But visiting Liverpool for the first time 10 years ago struck me and in many ways started my Sankofa journey.

I saw what my ancestors experienced from another side of the Atlantic and this piqued my interest to dig deeper.  Read more…

Black Salt at the Maritime Museum

29 September 2017 by Andrew

Black Salt: Britain’s Black Sailors exhibition opens today. Revealing the historically overlooked experiences of Black seafarers, the exhibition and the book it is based on – Black Salt: Seafarers of African Descent on British Ships – reveal how Black sailors contended with the dangers and hazards of life at sea, and challenged inequality on board and ashore. The book’s author Liverpool historian Dr Ray Costello, blogs about some of the roles those sailors would have had. 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.