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National Museums Liverpool flies the flag for Human Rights

26 June 2019 by Sahar Beyad

This year marks 70 years since the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It was drafted in 1948, with no more than 50 countries getting involved – and today, we have over 190 who have co-signed this much needed legal text. And never before has this been such a vital piece of affirmation, than now in present day. When there is so much uncertainty in the world. Whether it’s politics, war, and economy – we need voices to stand up for basic rights now more than ever!

I was so happy to learn that National Museums Liverpool was taking part in the anniversary of the human right declaration. This year, to mark the occasion, artist and activist Ai Weiwei designed the flag which seems simple and unassuming at first glance, but then inspecting in detail, the footprint, which has lots of tiny white dots, actually represents those who are fleeing conflict – who are often barefoot – with nothing but the shirt (if) on their backs. It was inspired by a recent trip he took to the Rohingya refugee camp – this therefore became the symbol of the human struggle.

Ai Weiwei with the flag he designed

Across National Museums Liverpool, we have an array of programmes, events and exhibitions that give the voiceless and voice, and portray images of unity, peace and demonstrate our efforts to strive for a better world. Double Fantasy in Museum of Liverpool is just one example of this. Of course this exhibition touches upon the iconic relationship between Yoko Ono and John Lennon, but it also explores their unwavering campaign for peace. We have many response areas throughout this exhibition where we invite you, the visitor to share your messages of love, peace and solidarity.

Across the waterfront is the International Slavery Museum which serves as a permanent reminder of our unforgettable past. Currently we have the exhibition Continuing the Journey which is a media collection of oral histories, photography and film, exploring issues which affect people of African heritage, born, raised or living in Liverpool’s locality. It explores the struggle of Merseyside’s Black community to obtain racial equality and social justice from post war Britain to the 1980s.

As an organisation we encourage dialogue, and discuss the importance of universal human rights. The involvement of NML in #FlytheFlag70 is a small contribution to a bigger issue – but no involvement, however small it might be, is trivial.  The flag flies proudly on the Edmund Gardner ship.

Chris Moseley hoisting the flag on Edmund Gardner ship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://flytheflag.org.uk/ 

Our workshops for schools and groups:

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/schools-and-groups/workshops/the-legacies-of-transatlantic-slavery-ks5-plus.aspx

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/schools-and-groups/workshops/empowering-women.aspx

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/schools-and-groups/workshops/lgbt-language-and-law.aspx

What next for human remains collections at the World Museum?

19 June 2019 by Emma Martin

Emma Martin, Senior Curator at World Museum introducing the discussion with a copy of the Human Remains policy that is currently being reviewed. Left to right: Angela Stienne, Constantine Eliopoulous, Ashley Cooke, Ben Jones and Chrissy Partheni. Image by Donna Young

This is a guest blog by Angela Stienne (Science Museum, London) who recently chaired two public debates on human remains in museums at World Museum for the #WMWhereNext initiative.

On Friday 17 May, World Museum hosted two public debates on human remains in museums, as part of the LightNight Liverpool festival. The aim of these debates was to probe public opinion on the retention and display of human remains in museums through votes via smartphones, but also to engage the public in a convivial conversation on a very important topic for the museum: what next for human remains collections at the World Museum? I was invited by the World Museum to moderate the debate, as part of my Medicine Galleries Research Fellowship at the Science Museum, which focuses on human remains in the 21st century museum. I am here sharing some thoughts on this very inspiring and thoughtful evening, and what this means for the future of engagements with human remains in museums. Read more…

John – evacuee and media star!

18 June 2019 by Kay

Our new exhibition, Blitzed: Liverpool Lives brings together dramatic images of Blitz-damaged Liverpool alongside evocative spoken memories of people who experienced the aerial bombardment first-hand. One of those people is John McEwan. John grew up in Salisbury Street, Everton and was evacuated after his family had a very close shave. John’s is one of many interviews in our Liverpool Voices archive which I spent many hours listening to and selecting highlights to be included in the exhibition.

John was invited to our press call the day before the exhibition opened to be interviewed by the local media. Just before it began I had the pleasure of showing him around the exhibition. He listened to the audio of himself in the central ‘cinema area’ and read his quote I used to bring to life a photograph of children outside of bombed homes. It brought back lots of memories for him and he was an absolute pro, recalling many experiences for Radio Merseyside, The Guide Liverpool, Liverpool Echo, Culture Liverpool, Wirral Globe etc.

Read this transcript of John’s audio in the exhibition –
“My dad would be home on leave and he heard sirens and the blackout was on and he made his way home expecting to find my mother and the three children, Betty, Tommy and myself in the air raid shelter.   When he went to the air raid shelter we weren’t there. He then went to the house and my mum was under the kitchen table, or under the dining table, with the three children.   Obviously my dad was very concerned about this. I don’t know exactly what went on other than the fact that the decision was made to evacuate us.  My mother was also pregnant at the time with my younger brother Peter, who is a year younger than myself. And as a result the three children, myself, Betty and Tommy were evacuated to St Joseph’s Children’s Home in Freshfield near Southport, and that would be sometime in 1940, in around maybe the autumn of 1940.

The reason we went more than any other, was that we lived not far from the docks.  Because if they were bombing the docks, the German planes were never allowed to go home with ammunition, they weren’t allowed to.  So they dropped the bombs on the way, you know, when they were retreating from their targets that was the natural thing for them to do.  The British pilots would do the same if they were doing a raid, partly because they had to show they had done the job and also it would be a lighter plane and it would improve their chances of getting back.  So we were in bombing range of the Liverpool docks and there were, I mean, I remember even after the war, long after the war, up to, I say to about 1950, there were bombed houses, and ‘ollers’ as we used to call them, and wasteland all round that area.  So, certainly in the street I lived in, Salisbury Street, there were three or four bombed sites, so it wasn’t a question of maybe, it was a question that you were extremely fortunate if it didn’t happen, to either you, or a relative, or a friend.”

“Peter and I were taken into this lounge and told, ‘John, Peter, this is your daddy’. Because of all the moving around we just accepted it and it was more or less like being introduced to a schoolmaster.   It was very strange, but for my dad, it was very, very emotional.”

John McEwan
Liverpool Voices Archive, Museum of Liverpool

Thank you to John and all of the contributors to the exhibition.

We are gathering memories and responses to the images and memories in the exhibition. Selected responses will be displayed in the exhibition. You can leave a reply in the comments book in the exhibition, share via Museum of Liverpool social media or come along to one of our workshops

Are we there yet? School trip on the Liverpool Overhead Railway remembered

17 June 2019 by Sharon

Dorothy is one of the stars of the Liverpool Overhead Railway gallery. Her story of a school trip on the railway ends with her being given a mystery fruit (which turned out to be a pineapple) by a docker on the return journey. The story is based on one told to me when I did a talk many years ago and I adapted it to use in the gallery.

Now we have more evidence of the fun and excitement of a school trip on the iconic overhead railway! A few weeks ago we were contacted by a lady whose friend was a teacher in Liverpool in 1949 and had taken her class on a trip on the LOR. She still had her plan for the day and some reviews of the trip written by her pupils. They have been very kindly donated to the museum and hand-delivered (by her friend Jan) all the way from Derbyshire.

Miss Ireland was a student teacher and recorded arrangements for the trip including the cost of 6 ½ d per child, plus 3d bus fare. Crossville put on an extra bus to take the 45 children from their school, Forefield Lane in Crosby, to Seaforth Sands Station on the LOR. Here the children were met by a guide who explained all the sights to them as they travelled along to Gladstone Dock Station were they got off the train.

On their tour of the dock they marvelled at all the products they were shown; crates of pineapples and coconuts, rubber, hides, hemp and huge teak logs, and were delighted to hear about the baby elephants, mongoose and snakes that had arrived the previous week!

After the trip Miss Ireland wrote that the children’s behaviour had been good and it was marvellous to see how much they had learnt on the 2 hour trip. She must have been impressed by some of the children’s recollections of their trip as she kept them for 70 years!

The children appear to have been very impressed by the ships in the docks and all the products they saw and learnt about. Not many of them mention the Overhead Railway and I am guessing that was because it was commonplace to them, it was just a part of the landscape of Liverpool and a convenient way to travel.

I am so grateful that Miss Ireland (now Mrs Gee) kept these precious reflections on her school trip and has passed them on to the museum where they will become part of our extensive archive of memories of the Liverpool Overhead Railway.

Behind the Scenes with Africa Oye

12 June 2019 by Sarah

Africa Oye 2014 – copyright Mark McNulty

We are always looking for new projects for our Student Ambassadors to work on. And this is what our Ambassador, and this week’s guest blogger, Laila Waraich has been working on most recently:

As part of my participation in the Ambassadors programme at the International Slavery Museum, I recently had the opportunity to meet with Dave McTague, part of the team at the Africa Oyé festival.

Although originally I had wanted to meet Dave to find out about the impact of Africa Oyé for a feature in an educational card game we are producing, ‘Civil Rights and Freedom Fights,’ I ended up discovering much more than I expected about the intricacies of producing an event like this, and it’s great cultural importance in Liverpool.

Africa Oyé is an annual African music and culture event held in Sefton Park, Liverpool. The festival started in 1992 as a series of gigs spread out over several venues. Legend has it that the founder, Kenny Murray, chose Liverpool for his festival at random, by sticking a pin in a map.

Liverpool is an incredibly appropriate city to host a celebration of African culture, with the oldest Black community in Europe as well as the shadow of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which funded the growth of the city. Dave also stressed the popularity of the festival amongst locals:

“No event is loved in the way Oyé is loved,”

This is making us hungry! Oye food – copyright Mark McNulty

 

The main field that has been used in Sefton Park since the early 2000s is nearing capacity. . Another of the founders’ aims was to present a more positive representation of Africa than that of poverty and war which is common in mainstream media. Instead the event gives us an inspiring taste of the richness of African culture.

Dave McTague describes himself as one of Oye’s core team working closely with Paul Duhaney, the artistic director of the festival. Working within a small team, his title is ‘Head of Marketing and Partnerships’, but his role is varied; encompassing funding bids, planning of the event, marketing, data collection and social media management. I was specifically interested in the work Dave has been doing recently to increase the accessibility of the festival. Through audience analysis the team can work out which demographics are attending, and which aren’t. The data can then be used to make positive changes, or receive funding from a certain group. For example increasing accessibility for members of the disabled community by BSL signing the performances on the main stage, and creating specific viewing platforms and an access tent. Audience analysis has also helped the festival adapt to change. In the last fifteen years, the PR strategies needed to attract young people and students have moved on, with social media now playing a vital role. I hadn’t realised the amount of behind-the-scenes social planning required to keep an event like this diverse and effective.

Music is also central to Dave’s work. As well as running his own record label, Mellowtone, he attends the WOMEX Conference to aid in sourcing acts for the festival. Oyé’s appeal has widened recently as music from across the African diaspora, especially Afrobeat, has come to the forefront of modern pop. As well as a range of global acts performing a mixture of traditional and current music, there is a diverse selection of carefully-curated stalls and activities on offer every year.

Dave was really passionate about the family friendly atmosphere at the festival, noting that unusually for a festival of this size, people are generally well-behaved, and the community tends to ‘self-police’. Local businesses like Movema provide dance workshops in the Oyé Active Zone, while there are children’s events like the LFC skills classes as well as a range of African and world food stalls. There is also an opportunity for education; the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine ran a workshop where children were encouraged to make pipe-cleaner mosquitoes to spread malaria awareness. Even the fun fair is local, with multiple generations of the same family often working together.

Through the music, dance, food and other stalls available, the organisers have created a space that attracts a diverse mix of locals and visitors from every part of society. Oyé is an event that it is fun to be at, but I think it can also increase cultural understanding in the community. Rather than formal education, it is an interactive, enjoyable experience that can still challenge stereotypes of Africa and African people and have a positive impact on race relations in the city.

Africa Oyé is running from the 22-23 of June this year.

 

 

Sergeant Cyril Askew

10 June 2019 by Karen O'Rourke

Cyril wearing lots of medals

Cyril proudly wearing his Legion of Honour medal above his Second World War campaign medals. Image courtesy of the King’s Regiment Association.

This guest blog by Major (Retired) Eddie McMahon TD continues our series of blogs commemorating D-Day.

“Cyril Lancelot Askew enlisted with the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment in 1935 and served in the Second World War. Unusually, he served on both the Eastern and Western fronts. His service is described in an earlier blog and in a display at the Museum of Liverpool.

I first met Sergeant Cyril Askew in 1975, while I was still serving with the King’s, before I became involved with the Regimental Association. I was intrigued by this interesting man kitted out in his Corps of Commissioners uniform, proudly wearing his medal ribbons. The Corps was set up to help ex-servicemen into employment after demobilisation and Cyril had welcomed people at many of Liverpool’s amazing buildings, including the Three Graces and The Liverpool Empire.

I listened to him talk about patrolling the dangerous Khyber Pass territory in India, or coming under heavy German fire in the weeks after D-Day while pushing inland. Read more…

Volunteers Week spotlight – Sarah from our Board of Trustees

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. To celebrate Volunteers Week we are meeting more volunteers as part of a bumper Volunteer Spotlight series so we can really celebrate the different contributions that our amazing volunteers make.

Volunteering comes in many forms, especially here at National Museums Liverpool. From Education to our Finance department, but we even have volunteers at senior level. Our Board of Trustee’s all support the organisation in their own time and are passionate about culture and museums, as well as the Liverpool City Region. Trustees offer useful and practical advice to our Executive Team regarding the organisation’s strategies, as well as smaller meetings with departments regarding specific issues.

Sarah Dean is one of the most recent additions to the Board of Trustees; her day to day role is as a senior member of the finance team at the Grosvenor Estate Family Office, but she has been a keen volunteer since her teenage years. Sarah was a volunteer Expedition Leader and Assessor for the Duke of Edinburgh Award for fifteen years; as well as being a Trustee she is also Chair of Governors at a Cheshire primary school. She rightly said that volunteering is a good thing for you to do, for your mental health and wellbeing and it’s good to be able to give something back. Read more…

Hands-on help

6 June 2019 by Liz

When you think of archaeology what comes to mind? People digging holes? Delicate brushing of soil from objects? Time Team? Indiana Jones?!

Archaeologists explore the past through material culture – the things people made, built and used.  Those things are often excavated, but can also be standing remains of buildings. After an excavation is completed there is a fascinating process of work to undertake back indoors to understand the site and its objects and make sense of the evidence. In June there are opportunities for you to get involved in some workshops to capture information about finds, and label them with their museum reference numbers.

Working with the archaeology team at the Museum of Liverpool volunteers (aged 18 or over) are invited to explore the finds excavated last years at the site of courtyard housing at Oakes Street. Read more…

Volunteers Week spotlight – Corrina from Ethnology

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. To celebrate Volunteers Week we are meeting more volunteers as part of a bumper Volunteer Spotlight series so we can really celebrate the different contributions that our amazing volunteers make.

Alex (L) and Corrina (R)

Life has a habit of going full circle and that is certainly the case with Corrina: a volunteer with the Ethnology team. When she returned to the UK having taught English in Japan for fourteen years, Corrina revisited what she had originally had an interest in before her move, and looked towards the Walker Art Gallery, which she studied as part of her dissertation. This prompted her to make enquires into volunteering for National Museums Liverpool.

Initially Corrina had been interested in archive work  and she also wanted her volunteer role to link back to Japan: assisting the Ethnology department research and record the Japan collection in the museum collections store seemed perfect. Read more…

Why we need Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill

5 June 2019 by Sarah

Stamped bills

This week’s guest blog has been written by artist Dano Wall, who designed a stamp which puts Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Dano kindly allows us to use the stamp in some of our public education sessions at the Museum. Find out how and why he came up with this fantastic idea, as he writes:

On April 20, 2016, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced plans to add Harriet Tubman to the front of the revised twenty-dollar bill, moving President Andrew Jackson to the rear. Lew instructed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to expedite the redesign process, and the new bill was expected to enter circulation sometime after 2020. Read more…



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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.