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Posts tagged with 'World Museum 150th anniversary'

Statues and sea-life

19 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…

On 16 March 2004, during building work on a new entrance and atrium, a traffic warden threatened to give a parking ticket to the crane moving exhibits at the front of the museum in William Brown Street!

Two, two-metre black stone statues of the Egyptian Goddesses Sekhmet were taken from display in the museum’s current entrance and craned down the street to the new entrance. The operation was followed by a photographer from the Liverpool Echo, and he photographed parking attendants as they threatened to fine the crane driver. On 17 March the story appeared in the Echo under the headline ‘Warden tries to book crane as it moves museum statues’. On the next day the story was picked up by the Scotsman, Daily Mirror, Daily Express and several regional papers. The Sun ran a picture story and the news went round the world to the Sydney Morning Herald. 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…

Bustling with life

3 March 2010 by Lisa

For this week’s blog to celebrate World Museum’s 150th anniversary, Curator of Botany Geraldine Reid is here to tell us how the massive ‘Plantastic!’ exhibition has been going.


Plantastic! definately seems to be fantastic at World Musem! After a rather intense few months of work leading up to the opening it’s great to sit back and see the museum bustling with plant related displays.
Giant purple inflatable flower on a balcony

Giant inflatable flower outside World Museum

However, because of the weather the botany team has not been able to sit back and relax! Every morning and night we need to venture out to put on and take off the frost blanket on the living plants outside the museum, which are arranged to spell out: Plantastic. Our dashing about seems to be keeping our early morning visitors suitably entertained. They’ve been watching as we run up and down with the billowing frost blanket, which takes off in the wind or is sometimes frozen so solid we can’t bend it to pack it away! But it’s worth it if we can keep our Plantastic! flower bed safe from the cold weather that we’ve been experiencing. Read more…

Contemporary Tibet in World Museum

26 February 2010 by Lisa

This week we’re looking at a recent aquisition to the World Museum for our 150th anniversary blog series. Here is our Head of Ethnology and Curator of Asia Collections, Emma Martin, to tell us more…


Gold and colourful painting of an antelope

A beautiful example of Tibetan art.

One of World Museum’s first purchases during it’s 150th anniversary is quite an unusual one. World Museum has for many years had a fantastic collection from Tibet, which you can see in the Asia section of the World Cultures gallery.

Most of the objects are 100-200 years old, but in the past month National Museums Liverpool has received funding from Friends of National Museums Liverpool and The Art Fund to buy a group of contemporary Tibetan artworks. This group of 12 artworks is the first to be collected by a museum in the UK and is an interesting new area of collecting for Liverpool. Read more…

The king of the gods

19 February 2010 by Lisa

For this week’s look back into the past 150 years of the World Museum, we’re going back to 1959 with Gina Muskett, our Curator of Classical and European collections…


1959 was a very important year for Liverpool Museum, as it was then known. It received a very generous gift – almost 400 classical sculptures from Ince Blundell Hall, north of Liverpool. They were collected in the late 18th century and early part of the 19th century by Henry Blundell, a wealthy farmer and landowner. Even a large house like Ince Blundell hall didn’t have room for his collection, so two new buildings were erected to display the sculptures – the ‘Garden Temple’ and later the ‘Pantheon’. It’s amazing that the group of sculptures survived more or less complete, without being sold or split up. Read more…

Plantastic! ready to go!

12 February 2010 by Lisa

As part of our celebration of World Museum’s 150th anniversary, this week we are looking at a story that is bang up to date! Seeing as we’ve had quite a few stories from the archives, we thought it would be good to tell you about what you can see at the museum right now.

Here is our Head of Museum Exhibitions, Annie Lord to tell us about the finishing touches for the amazing Plantastic! exhibition opening tomorrow… Read more…

Travelling cabinets

3 February 2010 by Lisa

The second story taken from the archives this week about World Museum, is from 1888. I’m not sure how our curators would feel about sending cabinets of precious specimens out to schools today, but at that time the museum’s ‘schools loans service’ provided a great way for children to learn about different types of artefacts while in the classroom.

A cabinet of animal specimens

A portable museum!

On 3 February 1888 John H Wood, Secretary of the Liverpool and District Teachers’ Association, wrote a letter to the museum in praise of its schools loan service: Read more…

Hide and seek at the museum!

2 February 2010 by Lisa

This week is a bumper week for our memories of the World Museum as we continue to pull out historic gems from the museum’s archives from the last 150 years. We have two interesting tales for this week in history. Firstly a report of ‘rowdyism and almost unimaginable crowds’ from 2 February 1935, when the Liverpool Post quoted museum director Dr. Douglas Allan complaining that the museum was overcrowded and disorderly on Sundays:

Black and white photo of Dr Douglas Allan writing

Dr. Douglas Allan: preferred promenading to hide-and-seek.

“…according to Dr. Allan, the number of people who crowd into the museum on Sundays is becoming unmanageable.  Many of the visitors are very young children, who occupy their time mainly in games of hide-and-seek… It is proposed, therefore, that children must be accompanied by guardians.  The limitation of the total attendance at any one time to a figure  consistent with both convenience and safety is also apparently desirable.  Is this thronging of the museum an indication that there are not sufficient facilities in other directions for indoor and outdoor relaxation on Sundays?” Read more…

At the World Museum: on this day in 1956

26 January 2010 by Lisa

Black and white photo of interior of museum

Interior of the museum in 1956

This week’s blog for the World Museum’s 150th anniversary year, is focussing a very important event in the museum’s history; the day it reopened to the public for the first time after World War Two. Our Executive Director of Collections Management, John Millard, has been digging around in the archives and he’s found an interesting anecdote about this day:

On the 26 January 1956, the museum reopened for the first time since war damage in 1941.  Writer, heiress and political activist, Nancy Cunard was visiting the museum and left a note for the director;

“Today, Saturday, 2 days after ceremonial opening and one day after public opening of “Lower Horseshoe” your attendant was counting the people as they came in: by 4pm – (when I arrived) the number was 2,419 – By 5, when the Museum shut, 2,892.  So well over 400 came in the last hour! A very good sale of booklets too.”
Read more…

William Brown gets a make over!

18 January 2010 by Lisa

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s always good to start the new year by having a bit of a spruce up – whether it’s spring cleaning or a bit of a make over! We’re used to giving important objects a new lease of life here at National Museums Liverpool and this week we have Sculpture Conservator, Lottie Barnden, to tell us about the work she’s been doing to help celebrate the World Museum’s 150th anniversary


Half cleaned marble bust of William Brown

William Brown sculpture during cleaning

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of William Brown’s gift of a library and museum to the city of Liverpool, a marble bust of the man himself has been brought out of storage for conservation treatment, prior to going out on public display. This portrait bust by Isaac Jackson was sculpted in 1851, just nine years before the William Brown Library was completed.

When it arrived at the sculpture conservation studios, it was thought to be one of the filthiest objects we’ve had in for a long time! I suspect that it hasn’t been cleaned since it was first made. The bust section is attached to a socle (a type of small round plinth) using a section of copper dowel. The plaster fill around this dowel has become brittle and loose and the bust now wobbles and turns on its base, making it quite unstable and unsuitable for going on public display as it is. Read more…

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