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Ancient African Empires

22 April 2014 by Mitty

bronze sculpture of a woman's head

Benin sculpture of the Queen Mother’s head

Fred, an Education Demonstrator at the International Slavery Museum, has written about one of the fascinating aspects of African history that you can find out about in the museum:

“As a slavery museum, we also learn about West Africa. European slave traders justified their mistreatment and exploitation of African people by painting a picture of Africa as a simple or “primitive” place compared to European civilisations. In reality, a series of powerful empires, with skilled craftsmen and complex societies existed in West Africa before and during the period of transatlantic slavery, including the once mighty Kingdom of Benin. We’ve added new objects to our Life in West Africa session to reflect this. Read more…

Magic at the museum

22 January 2014 by Zachary

Piece of stone

Irish type stone axe head (or ‘celt’) found in Parliament Fields, Toxteth Park, in 1866. This is probably the stone axe used to cure the Irish lad mentioned in the 1897 report.

World Museum is currently hosting the ‘Magic Worlds’ exhibition. It’s a fun and child-centred look at the miraculous, fantastical, illusional and folkloric – including everything from magicians to fairytales. The exhibition got me thinking about the role that ‘magic’ has played in the museum collection that I curate – the African collection. It’s true to say that there is a darker side to the long relationship that museums have had with all things ‘magical’.  Read more…

Preparation for new exhibition at World Museum, Liverpool

16 April 2013 by Louise

Elena performing traditional Indian dancing

Traditional Indian Dancing

This May sees a new exhibition, ‘Telling Tales: the art of Indian Storytelling’, opening at World Museum, Liverpool. The exhibition will run from 24 May until 8 September 2013 and will feature artwork and scrolls by Indian artists who draw on both traditional Indian tales and contemporary issues in their art. Objects from NML’s own Indian collection will be displayed alongside the scrolls making for an interesting dialogue between old and new. The exhibition will also include a life size series of projections of Elena Catalano performing traditional Indian dancing. Read more…

The wonders of World Museum

5 July 2012 by Lucy Johnson

A photograph of a large spider model at World Museum

Jacob Cook, as part of his work experience at NML, visits World Museum and reports on what he saw:


Today I revisited the World Museum in Liverpool for the first time in a while. I got there just after opening time expecting an empty museum, however that was not the case, the place was filled with junior school classes who must have been on their end of year trip.

These pupils seemed to enjoy every minute of the experience. They were excited, very curious about the exhibits and left no stone unturned (there are actual prehistoric stones that are available to handle) whilst dragging their teachers from one floor to the other. I thought it was great that their age group (8-11) are still as into the museum as me and my class were at that age. Read more…

Reflecting on the Jubilee: West African Portrait Figures of Queen Victoria

1 June 2012 by Lisa

Did you know that we have quite a few regal objects at World Museum? We started thinking about our royalty-related artefacts this week in the run up to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and we thought we’d share a couple of them with you.

Both these carvings are on display in the World Cultures gallery in the World Museum, so why not come along and see them this weekend as an alternative to all that bunting!

Here’s our Curator of African Collections, Zachary Kingdon to tell us more about them… Read more…

West African Donors to World Museum

19 April 2012 by Alison

Did you know that almost eighty Africans are known to have donated more than 500 objects to World Museum. Their donations helped to create one of the most important historical collections of African cultural artefacts in Britain.

A new display at World Museum shows photographic portraits of some of the West Africans who made donations to the museum between 1897 and 1916.

Most of them were taken by West African photographers. All the donors were friends or contacts of Arnold Ridyard, the steamship engineer who transported their gifts to Liverpool. Read more…

Inspired by…

27 June 2011 by Alison

Are you an adult on a part-time art course or a member of a community art group? We are inviting you to put your creative talents to the test and create a piece of artwork inspired by the collections at Sudley House, World Museum and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

Perhaps you could take inspiration from the internationally renowned Pre-Raphaelite collection at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, or the only art collection of a Victorian merchant in its original domestic setting at Sudley House, or maybe from objects in World Museum’s World Cultures gallery.

A panel of curators, educators and artists will judge. Winning artists and groups will see their work hung in an exhibition at World Museum and receive prizes. The closing date is 1 August 2011, and winners will be announced by the end of September.

For further information, to book a session, or to download your entry form, please go to: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/inspiredby or contact Kenn Taylor on 0151 478 4977. Read more…

A visitor from Easter Island

16 May 2011 by Lisa

We’ve just got some news that a mysterious visitor will soon be arriving at World Museum! Here’s our Curator of Oceanic Collections, Lynne Heidi Stumpe, to tell us about him…


Dark grey stone statue of a head and torso.

Image courtesy and copyright Trustees of the British Museum

An interesting new visitor is arriving at World Museum this evening. Moai Hava is just over five feet high, weighs about two and a half tons and is a little bit rough around the edges. He comes originally from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) but has been staying at the British Museum in London for the last 142 years, along with a larger friend called Hoa Hakananai’a.

All Rapa Nui statues have individual names: ‘moai’ means ‘statue’ or ‘image’ in the Rapanui language and ‘hava’ best translates as ‘to be lost’. Moai Hava is quite a mysterious character. Most moai were carved from volcanic tuff, a relatively soft rock, have a distinctive style and were made to commemorate ancestral chiefs. Moai Hava, however, is one of the few moai made from basalt, a much harder rock and is in a slightly different style. We don’t know exactly why he was made. Read more…

Last stop Sikkim

26 November 2010 by Emma

View down to a pedestrianised street with shops on either side and mountains in the background

View over the Gangtok promenade

My final week of research has brought me to Gangtok, the state capital of Sikkim. Its a marked contrast to Kalimpong, here you are closer to the mountains, despite being in almost tropical jungle. The town is perched on a wooded valley hillside and looks out over rice paddies, that are just being harvested, and two important monasteries, Rumtek and Lingdum. Sikkim is wealthy in comparison to other hill states in India and the place has the feel of an English spa town. My work here will centre on the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and the State Archive and already the work is going well. Everything stopped for a couple of days as Diwali was celebrated across India.  The Festival of Lights is a time of pujas to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and also a good excuse for families to get together and set off fireworks. These could be seen and heard across the town and for those wanting an early night’s sleep, a very decent pair of earplugs was essential. Read more…

Moving up to the Himalayas

12 November 2010 by Emma

Monastery in the hills

Bhutia Busty Monastery with Kanchendzonga in the background.

Following the mad panic that always ensues at the end of a bout of archive fever, I managed to complete a good chunk of my research in the Delhi archives and have now moved up to the Northeast of India and to the mountains of West Bengal and Sikkim.

The work here is a little different in that I’m now trying to find the descendants of some of the men I have been reading about in the archives and also get a feel for the area Charles Bell worked in. My first stop was Darjeeling, where I spent a couple of days visiting places where Bell and the 13th Dalai Lama had stayed and visiting a photography studio that had a number of interesting historical photograph taken at the time Bell was there. The area is surrounded and dominated by the Khangchendzonga range, this is the third highest mountain in the world and as the temperatures have dipped for winter, there is a good covering of snow on the mountain tops. This is the perfect time of year to visit as the day are warm, and the views, as you can see, are very clear out to the mountains.  Read more…