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The Fearful Object

8 November 2019 by Jen

19th century short sword and scabbard

Sword bayonet brought back from the Crimea by Cunard seafarer George Paynter. – MMM.2012.41.1-2

A couple of years ago I attended a talk at a Museums Association conference entitled ‘The Fearful Object’. The idea behind which was a discussion of objects that are difficult for museums to display and interpret due to emotional or controversial associations. These can take many different forms, from artworks created by artists whose personal activities are unacceptable to us, to objects that are difficult in and of themselves, such as human remains, torture and force-feeding equipment, or weapons.

Just as there are some objects that we find ourselves drawn to, there are also those that repel us. Difficult or unpleasant objects; objects that can ignite a visceral response in us. I recently encountered one within the Maritime History collections that elicited such a response in myself. Read more…

Hitler bombed my Wendy house!

6 November 2019 by Kay

Valerie outside of her Wendy house. Image courtesy of Valerie Williams Nimmo

As part of Blitzed: Liverpool Lives we are gathering people’s first-hand experiences of the Blitz to include in the exhibition. Read more…

Breathing new life into old records

5 November 2019 by Abbie Brennan

This year we decided to put our old aerial photographs to use, to create an insightful new resource…

Read more…

Introducing Emily Tinne

1 November 2019 by Ellie Shenton

Emily Tinne portrait

Emily Margaret Tinne, taken around the time of her marriage in 1910. Photograph courtesy of the Tinne family

Most of us have clothes that we never wear but can’t bear to part with or have made one of those “mad purchases” when we wonder just what we’ve bought. Yet, whilst there are times when we could do with the skills of Marie Kondo, there are few whose dedication to fashion went as far as that of Emily Tinne.

Emily is often referred to as Britain’s first “shopaholic” and with a collection of over 700 items of clothing it’s not hard to understand why.

Born in Calcutta in 1886, Emily began buying and collecting clothes after her wedding in 1910. Her collection is a wonderful insight into how fashion evolved over the decades until the 1930s. Read more…

#Thankstoyou – Free entry to Taki Katei for lottery ticket holders

31 October 2019 by Laura

Step back in time to 19th century Japan with the exquisite artwork of Taki Katei, and from 23 November to 1 December, National Lottery players will be able to see this stunning exhibition free of charge at World Museum.

Visitors who bring a lottery ticket to the Museum during those nine days will be offered free entrance to the exhibition, and the opportunity to explore the work of this remarkable artist, shown for the first time outside Japan.

Delicate drawings and paintings on silk depict the beautiful flora and fauna of the country and demonstrate why Katei became a favourite of the Japanese Imperial court.

Bush Peonies by Taki Katei

National Lottery players have contributed to National Museums Liverpool in a variety of ways. From the development of the International Slavery Museum in 2007 to the refurbishment of the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s South End (2014), the unwavering support of National Lottery has made a huge difference to a variety of our projects, both big and small.

This is why we are very pleased to be part of the #thankstoyou campaign and mark 25 years of The National Lottery with free entry to this special exhibition.

 

Terms and conditions

  • The offer is valid from 23 November to 1 December 2019.
  • Tickets for Drawing on Nature: Taki Katei’s Japan will be issued on presentation of a valid lottery ticket/ scratchcard at the ticket desk on the ground floor of World Museum and cannot be pre-booked online or over the phone.
  • Drawing on Nature: Taki Katei’s Japan is open daily from 10am with last admission into the exhibition at 3.30pm with the building closing at 5pm.
  • Visitors must present one valid Lottery ticket/scratchcard per person, this will redeem one ticket only.  How many draws entered on each ticket will not be taken into consideration.
  • All National Lottery games qualify, including tickets for any National Lottery draw-based game (Lotto, Euromillions, Set For Life, Thunderball, Lotto HotPicks and Euromillions Hotpicks) or any National Lottery Scratchcard. Tickets for any other Lottery do not apply.
  • The date of draw / purchase is not relevant.
  • Lottery tickets must be original. Photocopies are not valid.
  • Digital tickets are valid. Please present an email confirmation or receipt of purchase.
  • The offer applies to exhibition visits only and does not include guided tours or special events.
  • World Museum has the right to refuse entry in the unlikely event of the exhibition reaching capacity, as well as unforeseen circumstances.
  • Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Picture This competition

29 October 2019 by Ann

Woman and man with Liver Building in background and text 'Picture This'

This November, the debut show from Pique Niche Productions is coming to The Hope Street Theatre. Picture This showcases 3 brand new plays from Liverpool based writers. Each play is inspired by art: whether that be landscapes of the city’s inimitable waterfront or an abstract painting of a woman with an iguana for a necklace! The stories explore family life and relationships ranging from the romantic to the dysfunctional, and all told with a classic Scouse sense of humour.

Our current exhibition, An English lady’s wardrobe, doesn’t feature any iguana necklaces, but it does feature the largest collection of a single person’s clothing in any UK gallery.

To mark the opening of An English lady’s wardrobe and the debut performances of Picture This we’re giving away two pairs of tickets Read more…

What to Do With Your Loot: Renovating the Benin Displays at World Museum

25 October 2019 by Zachary

The artist Leo Asemota at World Museum 10 October 2019 looking at documents in the museum’s Benin archives.

If you have been following World Museum blogs or social media you will have seen that we are in the first stages of renovating our outdated World Cultures Gallery.

The project focuses on a few key display areas of the larger gallery, one of which is the Benin exhibit within the Africa displays. The project provides an opportunity to explore ways of re-thinking Benin’s history and culture as part of a wider global story to make it more relevant and responsive to contemporary audiences in Liverpool and beyond. New and engaging content for the renovated display will be developed around key questions in themed workshops with a small group of Liverpool residents with a particular interest in the past, present, and future implications of holding and displaying Benin collections in museums.. Workshops will be facilitated by Leo Asemota, an artist from Benin whose practice interrogates and links historical and cultural themes from both Britain and Benin City. A couple of weeks ago Leo came to Liverpool to explore the museum’s Benin-related archives in preparation for the workshops.

The museum’s archive includes photographs of Benin created by a Liverpool trader in the early 1890s, but Leo was also able to look through various other archival letters, newspaper articles, publications, and even hand-written accounts. Many of these related to the so-called British ‘punitive expedition’ sent to subjugate Benin City in February 1897, during which British forces looted thousands of royal artworks in bronze, brass and ivory from the palace complex. What really caught Leo’s eye, though, was something more contemporary; a newspaper article from 1981 cut from the lifestyle pages of a Sunday broadsheet newspaper. The article profiles an up-market shoe designer boasting a clientele of international celebrities. It featured the image of a Benin queen mother’s head used as a prop for advertising a collection of zebra-patterned shoes. Leo was instantly struck by this image and selected the cutting as an item of particular interest for the project.

As an example of cultural appropriation for commercial purposes, the 1981 image is especially shocking for the way that it thoughtlessly replicates the desecratory structure of much earlier photographs taken in Benin in February 1897.

British officers seated on looted royal altarpieces in the Benin palace compound Benin City, 1897.

Officers with the February 1897 British punitive expedition seated on looted royal altarpieces in the Benin palace compound. Benin City, 1897. Part of an image by an unidentified photographer displayed on a graphic panel in the Benin displays at World Museum Liverpool.

Image from a 1981 newspaper cutting showing Benin Queen Mother head used as a prop for advertising a collection of zebra-patterned shoes.

Image from a 1981 newspaper cutting in the Karpinski archive at World Museum, taken from the lifestyle pages of a Sunday broadsheet newspaper. The image shows Benin Queen Mother head used as a prop for advertising a collection of zebra-patterned shoes.

Photograph of a replica Benin Queen Mother head made for sale from an original in the British Museum. World Museum collection.

In these photographs British officers with the punitive expedition are shown seated in triumph on looted brass altarpieces and other treasures stripped from the ancestral shrines in the royal palace and piled up in the palace courtyard. The image from 1981 represents a peculiar reincarnation of the photographs taken 84 years earlier in Benin. It activates a toxic colonial memory in order to urge wealthy customers to spend their ‘loot’ on zebra-striped shoes.

Museums, as theatres of memory-making and storehouses of ill-gotten colonial props, have much to do in helping to re-examine and counter the violently-fashioned memory-scapes of our colonial pasts. The workshops with Leo Asemota at World Museum are intended to play a key part in the process!

Black History Month – collecting history in the making

21 October 2019 by Kay

The new Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Anna Rothery made history recently by becoming Liverpool’s first Black Lord Mayor.

To help record this momentous occasion in our city’s history we have acquired several items from her Installation at Liverpool Town Hall on 4 September for the permanent collections of the Museum of Liverpool. Read more…

Conservators make Blitz survivor rise again

16 October 2019 by Jen

Conservator Dave Parsons hard at work on Arandora Star - 40.26

Conservator Dave Parsons hard at work on Arandora Star – 40.26

Here at National Museums Liverpool we’re lucky to be the keepers of some long held collections. The Merseyside Maritime Museum may only have opened its doors in 1986 but our collection goes back much further than that. In fact the Maritime Museum grew out of the old Liverpool Museum (now known as World Museum).

A collection this old and vast always has more surprises waiting for us and sometimes an object’s history with the museum can be just as exciting as its time before it joined us. Our museums and galleries have led some pretty exciting lives themselves, especially the older ones, and of all of them the World Museum has been welcoming visitors through its doors for the longest. The building’s got a fascinating history and so have the collections it has housed, including many of the older ship models in the Maritime collections. Read more…

Behind the scenes in the Museum – creating a wash-house display

15 October 2019 by Kay

Kerrie McGiveron is the lead researcher on an amazing community-led oral history project ‘Hanging Out: The Histories of Liverpool’s Laundry Life.’

“As part of my placement working with the Museum of Liverpool, I was invited to the museum stores by Kay Jones, Curator of Urban Community history to view and select items to include in the display. As a PhD researcher, when I’m not conducting oral history interviews I often spend time alone in archives looking at documents or writing at my desk. It was great to be given the opportunity to have a look behind the scenes and to learn about the work put into a museum display. 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.

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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.