PSS – Perspectives and partnerships: the story of a display

24 May 2019 by Kay

A newly commissioned artwork to celebrate the 100th birthday of social enterprise PSS (Person Shaped Support) has recently been unveiled in the Museum of Liverpool. The team here at the Museum work with lots of different groups and organisations to create exhibits which tell diverse stories of the city. Find out more about the Our City, Our Stories programme.

We were approached by PSS in 2018 to work in partnership to commemorate their innovative work. We were delighted to support their funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (now the National Lottery Heritage Fund). Happily, it was successful.

L to R: Lesley Dixon (Chief Executive of PSS), Sarah Nicholson (artist), Kay Jones (Curator of Urban Community History)

PSS wanted the proposed display to creatively reflect their organisation, its people and values.

About PSS
Founded by Eleanor Rathbone in 1919, PSS began its life as Liverpool Personal Services Society. It made a huge impact by listening to, supporting and empowering people in need across the city.
From its Liverpool home, PSS kick-started a whole host of innovations in health and social care, including Age UK, Legal Aid, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Relate and Riverside Housing.
PSS is still coming up with new ways to help. This includes mental health services and rehabilitation for women in the criminal justice system, support for people with learning and physical disabilities, and help for families affected by addiction.

Working with Dot Art, local artists submitted proposals to produce artworks responding to a detailed brief.
There were a number of great proposals and it was a hard job to whittle them down. The winner was Sarah Nicolson whose ideas around using visual layers and transparent figures which raise questions around the visibility of people experiencing social disadvantage spoke to us all.

The location of the display was to be the Museum Atrium, in ‘the case under the stairs’ as we call to it. Its unusual shape offered lots of creative possibilities and challenges!
We met, discussed ideas and over the next few months Sarah produced the artwork and adapted it to fit requirements and practicalities. With every display we also need to think about key messages, interpretation and accessibility and this was no different.

A timeline of PSS’s key dates was applied in vinyl on the inside of the case. Sarah’s artwork consisting of a textile map of the city covering the case base, 100 cast resin figures, bridges and origami buildings was installed over a number of days. Important signs warning the public not to feed the artist were displayed.

A specially made short film which tells the story of PSS and the vital work that it does was shown on the atrium screens.

The display can be seen over the next six months and there will be further special events as part of the centenary.

Find out more about the amazing (and surprising) story of PSS

1919 Race Riots Centenary – Looking back at Untold Stories

In November 2013 at the Museum of Liverpool, we launched our Untold Stories project, exploring the stories of some of Liverpool’s Black Families in the First World War. We were able to search back through the histories of several local families, who then featured in our exhibition, Reflecting on Liverpool’s Home Front, which was a great success and ran for a year from July 2014.

As part of the project, we worked with local groups and organisations to create a mix of events, both in the Museum and in the Liverpool 8 area. While working on a series of creative writing workshops with Writing on the Wall, we got the chance to look at an amazing archive of material, relating to the Race Riots in Liverpool that happened in 1919. Now, 100 years on, Writing on the Wall is telling the story of the Riots as part of their WoWFest 2019 programme.

By the summer of 1919, tensions that had been rising for many months finally boiled over. Servicemen had been returning from the War expecting a hero’s welcome, only to find that after four long years away, their jobs had either disappeared altogether, or had been filled by lower paid women and immigrant workers. Angry letters began to appear in newspapers. Racist insults and threats were hurled at both men and women in the street and scuffles frequently broke out. The scuffles escalated into street brawls and the Police were soon trying to track down ring leaders.

On the evening of 5 June, the police raided a boarding house in Upper Pitt Street, home to mainly Caribbean and West African seafarers. Violence broke out and an angry mob gathered on the street, determined to fight with the seafarers. Charles Wotten, a Bermudan ship’s fireman, escaped the house and fled towards the docks, pursued by the Police and by the mob. It is unclear exactly what happened next, but he was apprehended by the police and then somehow ended up in the Dock. He tried to swim away, while the mob pelted him bricks and stones, but soon drowned. The Coroner’s investigation would not give a clear verdict as to whether he had jumped or had been pushed.

The archive researched by Writing on the Wall and a new exhibition at the Liverpool Record Office covers the story of the riots, the resulting outcry, and attempts by Local and National government to deal with the crisis. The fascinating documents look at the families and the places that came under attack and the attempts by the Mayor of Liverpool to repatriate the ‘stranded’ men involved.  Visitors to the festival can take part in a walking tour, taking in relevant places connected to the riots on Sunday 26 May. It’s a really powerful way of connecting to the events of 100 years ago. On Saturday 25 May, a one-day conference at St Georges Hall will reflect on the riots which were happening in Liverpool, but also in other Seaports around the UK and bring the discussion up to the present day and where we are now.

WoW Fest 2019 event details:

Improve your English at the Museum of Liverpool

14 May 2019 by Matt

In our museum we tell the story of the city of Liverpool, a city that has been shaped by people from all around the world.  This year we are launching a new public session for those who might want to improve their spoken English.  Jess from our education team tells us more-

“When I used to come the Museum of Liverpool on class trips as an English language teacher, I really noticed how much my students enjoyed it. They seemed really engaged in the objects and displays, and our visits often led to great conversations where they talked about a much wider range of topics than in class. I found that the museum is a great place to improve language skills, because it’s full of real and engaging collections, which help learners to connect new words to their own lived experiences.

Now that I’m in the Education team here, I want to work on making our collections as accessible as possible to everyone, especially those whose first language isn’t English. This is why I’m starting some public sessions aimed at people who want to improve their speaking and listening, while learning about the museum and the city in a relaxed and communicative way. We’ll take a look at Liverpool’s vibrant history with a language focus on vocabulary, pronunciation and communication skills. Learn about trading and the docks in the Great Port gallery, walk along our Timeline for an overview of the city’s history, and get to know some real Liverpudlians in the People’s Republic.

Whether you’re living, working or studying in Liverpool, or just here for a quick visit, if you want to improve your English language skills while learning about this fantastic city, come along to one of our free sessions. Sessions are aimed at intermediate learners and above, although learners of all levels are very welcome!”

We will running public sessions on 8 June and 15 June from 11am-12.30pm at the Museum of Liverpool. No need to get in touch, just turn up on the day.  Keep up to date with our what’s on page to see other sessions as they come up.

Stormy day in Liverpool as Carters remembered

2 May 2019 by Sharon

The rain poured and the wind blew – storm Hannah had arrived with a mighty roar. However this didn’t put off around 60 people who came to our ‘Remembering the Liverpool Carters’ event on Saturday 27 April at the Museum of Liverpool.

We started with a tribute to one of our Retired Carters Group, Joe Magee. Joe passed away on Good Friday and will be sadly missed by us all at the Museum. He was a lovely man, full of great tales about the carting days and his love for the working horses.

Joe started work straight from school at 15 and worked for James Addy who did all the Higson’s Brewery work. He then drove off Carter’s Corner (where you picked up casual work) and was 17 when he first drove a team. Another of our original group, Albert Hilton, said to him ‘you’re now a carter Joe, you’re driving a team of horses,’ and he was very proud of this. He worked with horses until 1956 when they were beginning to be phased out but retained his passion for his former profession throughout his life.

Lindsay Gavan from the Merseyside Police Mounted Division then gave a very entertaining and informative talk about the Police horses, how they were selected and trained and how their different personalities suit them for different roles.

Throughout the event we made flowers and admired the amazing models of local carts made by Frank Short.

Following a talk from myself about the history of the carters and the new material that has come into the museum lately we decided we couldn’t go outside to decorate ‘our horse’ – it was far too risky in the wind and rain. We rescheduled until May Day and decorated the Liverpool Working Horse Monument in traditional fashion.

Liverpool carters made an immense contribution to the economy of Liverpool and the monument and events at the museum mean their memory will always live on.

RIP Joe, my lovely friend.

Joe Magee at the Carter’s event in 2018

Sing-In for Peace

24 April 2019 by Matt

Photo by Ivor Sharp © Yoko Ono

On 26 May 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono-Lennon began their Bed-In in Montreal. The Bed-In was a new and innovative way to campaign for an end to war and to promote global peace.

To mark and celebrate 50 years since the Montreal Bed-In we would like to celebrate with a sing-in at the Museum of Liverpool on 26 May 2019. To do this we need your help and so we are inviting choirs, bands, and individual performers to come and share their songs or music inspired by the themes of love and peace on the day. If you would like to get involved please email by Friday 17 May and let us know a bit about your performance and any requirements you might have.

The Montreal bed-in was initially planned to take place in the USA but John experienced visa problems and so the couple had to reschedule to Montreal, Canada. From 26 May 1969, for 7 nights, the newlywed couple invited press and media in to their bedroom. They called for global peace and an end to war. In this time they collaborated with other activists and created the peace anthem, ‘Give Peace a Chance’ which they recorded in Montreal on 1 June.

Please help us celebrate this amazing message, please get in touch.


While you’re at the Museum of Liverpool make sure you check out the original bedspread the couple sat under and the guitar John played during their bed-in. Both objects are on display in the Double Fantasy exhibition, which tells the story of this amazing couple’s relationship.

Sports Pages take one for the team in Racism Row

12 April 2019 by Sahar Beyad

Emy Onuora

Guest blog from Emy Onuora

(Emy Onoura is the author of Pitch Black. Emy Onuora has an MA in Ethnic Studies and Race Relations from the University of Liverpool and has lectured extensively on issues of Race and Sport within higher education)

Raheem Sterling’s willingness to put himself forward as the spokesperson for a generation of black footballers is commendable, if only in the context of previous generations of footballers who were forced to suffer racist abuse in silence, even in some cases going as far as to insist that they used racist abuse as a motivator for improved performance. His challenge to the game’s leaders and opposition fans, and support for his team mates has marked a significant shift in black footballers demand to be treated with respect and dignity, has given other players the confidence to speak out and demand change. However, it’s his focus on racist attitudes within the media that’s had the most wide-ranging impact.

Sterling highlighted how his City team-mates, one black and one white received very different treatment by the Daily Mail. Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden had each purchased a home. The headline on the Adarabioyo story read “Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25 million despite having never started a Premier League match.” The headline for his white team mate Foden, read “Manchester City starlet Phil Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.”

Sterling’s exposé prompted several days of hand-wringing and self-reflection from both the print and TV media. They openly wondered how it could be that they could be so discriminatory and how it was they had no or few minorities in their newsrooms or making editorial decisions. They began to throw around terms like unconscious bias and wondered what they could be done to make sports media more reflective of the range of diverse groups who love and have a stake in the game.

However, clearly missing from the debate was any detailed discussion of the role that the mainstream media plays in generating and supporting a climate of outright hostility and overt racism against immigrants, their children and grandchildren, inner-city youths, black music, black crime,  black gangs, black parents and so on and so on, all of it designed to generate click-bait and sell papers and generate advertising revenue.

Football as has been said often and quite correctly, reflects society, and the rise in racist incidents both in English and European football, is a reflection of an environment that serves to empower the far-right and racists more widely, and is fuelled by the normalising of hateful ideas, speeches and actions by mainstream politicians and mainstream and social media.

Outside the rarified environment of football, there has been a significant rise in racist violence against groups and individuals, and increased racist attacks on mosques, synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, but the media’s willingness to support opposition to racism on its back pages, enables the same business-as-usual hate-filled, opinion pieces, leader comments, headlines and articles to be written about minority groups on its front pages. What’s happened, is that In football parlance, the sports departments have taken one for the team. This has allowed the blame to be shifted to sports journalism, and enable the media to state its commitment to anti-racism in football while its hostile reporting continues.

Of course, the fact that in 2019, Sterling, Danny Rose and other black footballers are still the cause of debate as to how they should be protected, reflects the fact that football’s leadership has never prioritised their duty of care, to allow them to play free from racist abuse is an indictment of the game we all love and of the society we are all a part of and have a stake in. Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, Wilfred Zaha and many other high profile and not so well-know players are doing us all a favour and reminding us that to create a society free from discrimination, requires opposition to racism not just when it concerns football, but also when it is actively fostered by those with the means and power to shape and form opinions.

Volunteer spotlight: Andrew Richardson

28 March 2019 by Rachel O'Malley

Volunteer Andrew Richardson with a regional archaeological find.

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. As part of the Volunteer Spotlight series we will be meeting up with volunteers who have been making outstanding contributions to the organisation and finding out more about the work that they do.

For this month’s spotlight, I was able to make my way to the waterfront in the beautiful February sunshine (hopefully not too much of a distant memory by the time you read this) to meet Andrew Richardson, a Regional Archaeology volunteer who volunteers with Vanessa Oakden, Curator of Regional and Community Archaeology in National Museums Liverpool’s Archaeology departmentRead more…

Through the roof in 2018!

27 March 2019 by Laura

Terracotta General

Terracotta General © Mr. Ziyu Qiu

No two ways about it, 2018 was a blockbuster year for National Museums Liverpool.

In figures released today by ALVA it was revealed that World Museum was the most visited museum in England (outside London) last year. Read more…

GIRLFANS UNTOLD – a call to action

1 March 2019 by Matt

This International Women’s Day we are ‘kicking off’ a new project looking at the stories of women football fans.  Researcher Jacqueline McAssey tells us more-

“In 2013, to highlight the lack of visibility of female football fans, and to give them a sense of belonging in a predominantly male dominated environment I began photographing women and girls of all ages and ethnicities at football grounds in the U.K. At the end of each season I published the photographs in a fanzine called ‘GIRLFANS’ – most recently at Celtic FC in their double-treble winning season.

As the project developed I always enjoyed talking to supporters, particularly older women; season ticket holders who travelled home and away, who still wore football shirts and who knew everything about football. They told me of the deep bonds they had made with their club, their families and friends because of football, and I felt as though these stories and experiences had not been told before. In the race to attract new fans to football I often thought of them as the forgotten supporters; the over 40s, over 60s, over 80s even.

In a 2017 interview with Mundial Magazine I talked about a new sister project; a ‘prequel’ to the original photo-fanzine. This project, ‘GIRLFANS UNTOLD’ would document the experiences of older fans who watched football before the Premier League formed in 1992, or before England won the World Cup in 1966 – as far back as possible.

It is especially significant to be able to launch this project at the Museum of Liverpool, in a city where terrace culture, terrace style and the escapades of male fans have been well documented, and are still talked about today. In an attempt to redress the issue of womens’ experiences going unheard, ‘GIRLFANS UNTOLD’ is a collection of stories by life-long female supporters of Everton, Liverpool, Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United.”

On 9 March at our Girl fans kicking off event we will be showing some of the images Jacqui has already collected as well as showcasing some vintage football shirts from some favourite teams.

Kick-off is at 11am and Jacqui will be on hand to talk about her project and let you know how you can get involved.  If your team has played at any point in the Premier League please come and share your experiences of what it means to be a female football fan with Jacqui.

‘GIRLFANS UNTOLD’ is supported by Liverpool John Moores University and Studio Dotto.

Tramcar 245 wins again!

27 February 2019 by Sharon

Liverpool tramcar 245

Liverpool Tramcar 245, restored by a partnership between National Museums Liverpool, Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society (MTPS) and Wirral Borough Council over a six year period, was launched back into service on 12 September 2015.

Following on from winning Tram of the Year for 2015 it has now been voted the Heritage Railway Association ‘Carriage and Wagon Award for self propelled vehicles.’

The award was presented by railway enthusiast and record producer Pete Waterman at a ceremony in Birmingham on 9 February. Rob Jones from MTPS proudly collected the award on behalf of the partners in the restoration project.  Read more…

About our blog

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.




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.