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Museum birthday countdown!

12 October 2010 by Lisa

We are counting down to the World Museum’s 150th birthday celebrations which are happening this weekend on 16 and 17 October. Each day we’ll be giving you a fascinating fact from the 150 year history of the museum in our countdown to the big day!

World Museum fact for the day:

Did you know…that on 8 March 1853 the museum opened for the first time on Slater Street in Liverpool. It was then called the ‘Derby Museum of the Borough of Liverpool’ in honour of the Earl of Derby’s bequest of over 20,000 natural history specimens. Read more…

Spring Public Lecture Series

12 May 2010 by Kay C

Picture of Toxteth Deer Park

I can’t believe our Spring Public Lecture Series is concluding tomorrow, Thursday – the weeks have flown by and the talks have been fascinating.

Our topics this week are, at 2pm, Beautiful Toxteth – The Unusually Royal History of Toxteth Deer Park by Dr Clemency Fisher, who will be revealing the beauty of Toxteth and discussing a couple of Toxtethian zoological riddles, including the identity of some very rare cows. This is followed by, at 2.25pm, Prehistoric, Roman and Medieval excavations at the M62 Tarbock Interchange, 2007. As is the case of many in Liverpool, I travel regularly on the M62, so I’m sure future trips will take on added meaning after tomorrow!
The Public Lectures are held in the Treasure House Theatre, World Museum, from 2pm. Read more…

Schools get a closer look in 1884

7 May 2010 by Lisa

Woman holding a bird skeleton

To continue our series of blogs celebrating the World Museum’s 150th anniversary, we’re looking into the archives at an important development in the museum’s educational program.

On the 6 May 1884, the museum became the first in the country have a loans service for schools. From our records, written by Rev. Henry Higgins the Chairman of the museum, we can see that:

‘…a communication was made from the Committee of the Library, Museum, and Gallery of Art, inquiring if duplicate specimens in the Museum could be used for educational purposes in connection with the Liverpool School Board.’ Read more…

Something for Thursdays

21 April 2010 by Kay C

Thursday afternoons are never going to be the same again…

I am really excited about our new Spring 2010 Public Lecture Series, which kicks off tomorrow (April 22). It’s being held at the Treasure House Theatre, World Museum, and features a selection of subjects from our museums and galleries’ collections and exhibitions, from archaeology to contemporary slavery.

For the next four Thursdays, our curators will be talking about some of the fascinating things they have researched. Read more…

A museum stuffed with specimens

8 March 2010 by Lisa

It’s time to peer back into the mists of time again in our series of blogs celebrating World Museum’s 150th anniversary. Today is one of the most significant dates in the museum’s history, as we revisit the day the museum first opened. Our archives tell us about the challenges that had to be overcome in order to fit the massive natural history collection into the museum…


The corner of a brown brick building

Slater Street, the location where the museum first openend.

On 8 March 1853, the museum first opened in a building on Slater Street in Liverpool, and it was called the ‘Derby Museum of the Borough of Liverpool’.  The Mayor and council marched in a procession from the Town Hall, arriving at the museum just after 2pm.  The Mayor spoke from a temporary dais about the collection of natural history in the museum which had been bequeathed to the town of Liverpool by the Earl of Derby. He said; Read more…

Green fingers in the World Museum

28 January 2010 by Lisa

I’m not very green fingered (I have accidentally killed a few cacti, it’s true) but luckily we have a number of expert botanists here at the World Museum! This week they got together with staff from the horticulture and botanical team of Liverpool City Council Parks and Greenspaces to create a lovely display in the atrium of the museum.

Here is Donna Young, our Botany Collections Manager, to tell us more about the display:


Plants in a large tub in the museum

The plant display in World Museum

“Plants inspire and sustain us – we depend on them for our food, clothing, shelter, medicine and even the air that we breathe! Liverpool has always had a special relationship with plants and has some of the finest parks and gardens in the world.

The plants in the display are from all over the world and are from Liverpool’s famous living collection which dates back to the opening of the city’s first botanical garden in 1803. Through the 19th century, the garden’s unrivalled collection grew. Plant collectors, exploring new lands, brought back plants of great economic and scientific value. Plants were also sent around the world, including plants for the imperial gardens in Russia. Read more…

Dodo Done

21 January 2010 by Stephen

Woman holding a brown Dodo skeleton

Dr Clem Fisher and the Dodo skeleton

I’m not a great pigeon fancier but I do have a soft spot for the biggest of this breed – the long-dead Dodo. Depending on what you believe, the flightless bird waddled or strutted into history around 1693 when it was wiped off the face of the earth.

There is a very rare skeleton of a Dodo temporarily on display at World Museum. It is going to be featured on Radio Merseyside at 8.20 am on Monday 25 January 2010 as part of the BBC’s exciting series, A History of the World. Our picture shows curator of vertebrate zoology Dr Clem Fisher, who was recently interviewed for the show, with the incomplete composite skeleton. It has been in our collection since 1866 and has not been on display for at least 40 years. Read more…

Voyage of discovery

13 January 2010 by Lisa

Here is this week’s post celebrating the World Museum’s 150th anniversary this year! This week we have a story from Ian Wallace, our Curator of Conchology & Aquatic Biology. Read on to find out about the staff who travelled on a luxury steam yacht to collect new specimens for the museum…


Henry H Higgins

Henry H Higgins

On January 16th 1876 the Museum’s Director, Reverend Henry Hugh Higgins, and museum assistants John Chard and James Wood, left Liverpool on board the brand new luxury steam yacht ‘Argo’.  This had been chartered by Mr Holt of Sudley Art Gallery fame (now called Sudley House), for a cruise to the West Indies and museum workers were invited along to collect scientifically important specimens for the Liverpool Museum (now called the World Museum).  The museum authorities allocated Higgins £50 to cover all costs for the three of them and to purchase specimens.  He spent  £43 and 10d (10 pennies) !   

They were especially interested in collecting marine life and they focussed on sponges.  A sponge is one of the least complicated of all animal groups.  There are lots of cells in the sponge body but there is no organising brain or nervous system and no complicated body organs.  The whole body is a mass of small channels lined by cells that have a beating hair.  These beating cells draw in water and other cells grab tiny single-celled plants floating in the water, digest the plant cells and pass some of the digested food to their neighbours.  Other cells secrete a supporting skeleton of horny fibres or glass fibres. Read more…

Happy Anniversary to the World Museum!

31 December 2009 by Lisa

Black and white photo of old museum interior.

The museum before it was bombed in the Second World War.

I know I’m a day early, but 2010 will mean a pretty important anniversary for us here at National Museums Liverpool. It will be the 150th Anniversary of William Brown handing over the keys for what was then the Liverpool museum, which we now all know and love as the World Museum.

To mark this anniversary we’re going to be featuring a year-long series of World Museum-related stories on this blog. There’ll be a story a week, with a mix of historical and contemporary pieces. We want to let you know all about the museum’s history but also give you a few behind the scenes peeks at the people, stories and events that make (and have made) this such a special museum. Read more…

Watch out for Shark Week!

2 October 2009 by Lisa

Here is Phil Lewis our Aquarium & Bughouse Assistant to tell you about the forthcoming Shark Week at the World Museum


European Shark Week runs from Saturday 10 to Sunday 18 October when we’ll have an array of activities at the World Museum’s Clore Natural History Centre. There will be badge making for children and lots of posters and pockets guides to give away, with information about sharks and rays.  All the drawings of the various species that are produced by visitors during the week, will be mounted on the wall to form a huge mural.  Read more…

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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.