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Posts by Emma Martin

What does World Cultures mean to you?

20 September 2019 by Emma Martin

We are curious. We want to know what the words ‘World Cultures’ mean to you? It is the name of World Museum’s biggest gallery, but does it really display the world? In May 2019, as we began the process of changing the World Cultures gallery we asked visitors to share their thoughts on that very question: What does World Cultures mean to you? We’ve received nearly 200 replies, so a big ‘Thank You’ if you took the time to post your comments. While each postcard was written from a personal point of view, we wanted to see if your responses had things in common that could help us make sense of what visitors get from a visit to the ‘World Cultures’ gallery. We have read and digitally scanned every card and with the help of Tim Medland, a University of Leicester MA student, we have identified a number of themes and words that appear regularly in your responses, which you can see in Tim’s word cloud. Read more…

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…

Where Next for the World Cultures gallery?

10 April 2019 by Emma Martin

If you’ve visited World Museum you’ll know the World Cultures gallery has incredible collections from Africa, Asia, Oceania and The Americas, but the presentation is now out of date and perpetuates stereotypes and assumptions about people and places. I am one of a group of people working in the museum who is increasingly questioning the relevance of these displays and thinking about new ways to use objects to understand our collective past, present and future.

We agree that the gallery needs to change, but the question is how to do it?

Read more…

Making connections through online collections

18 May 2017 by Emma Martin

A chod pan is worn by Tibetan Buddhist monks or lamas during religious ceremonies. The five panels feature the tathagatas or the Five Celestial Buddhas.

Sometimes, correcting mistakes found in the museum’s records leads to new and completely unexpected connections. This recently happened to me. I’ve spent more than ten years working my way through the Tibet collections here at World Museum. As I document the collections I try and fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge: do I know who made the object (often I don’t)? Do I know who once owned the objects (sometimes I do)? How did they collect the object? What do we know about the collector who sold or donated the objects to the museum? Read more…

The Shipping Gallery at Liverpool Museum

4 October 2016 by Emma Martin

A model ship with sails being studied by two young boys in school uniform

The Leader model was the museum’s first ship model, acquired in 1862 for the Mayer Museum, the predecessor of Liverpool (now World) Museum.

In the final blog in our series on World Museum and the Blitz I asked Rebecca, Curator of Maritime History at the Merseyside Maritime Museum to tell us about the development of the now lost Shipping Gallery which was once described as “the department which probably holds the greatest public interest, particularly for the citizens of Liverpool” Read more…

All creatures great and small: netsuke at World Museum

9 September 2016 by Emma Martin

Emma and Helen installing netsuke on the new mount

Emma and Helen installing netsuke on the new mount

Last week we re-displayed some of our new Japanese netsuke in the World Cultures gallery in World Museum. This wonderful collection of carved toggles was given to the museum in memory of the well-known 20th century collector Jonas Goro Gadelius.

Each year we refresh the display bringing a new group of netsuke out from the stores. This year I chose the theme ‘mini beasts’ and we now have a new mount inspired by a bonsai tree. Read more…

An Interview with Dorothy Downes

10 May 2016 by Emma Martin

Oliva (front) is interviewing Ellie (left), Dorothy (middle) and Martin (right).

Olivia (front) interviewing Ellie (left), Dorothy (middle) and Martin (right).

This week Lolo writes about meeting a member of staff who remembers the work that went into rebuilding the museum after the Blitz:

Last week I wrote about the Kingston Brooch and how it avoided the Blitz and the train accident. I was inspired to write about the brooch after meeting Dr Dorothy Downes, who began working for Liverpool (now World Museum) in the 1960s. Last month, I had the pleasure to hear first hand Dorothy’s lively account of what happened to the museum as it began to rebuild after the war. Read more…

The Kingston Brooch – a very lucky evacuee

3 May 2016 by Emma Martin

The Kingston Brooch is one of the most elaborate pieces of Anglo-Saxon jewellery ever found in England.

The Kingston Brooch is one of the most elaborate pieces of Anglo-Saxon jewellery ever found in England.

On 3 May 1941, exactly 75 years go, Liverpool endured the heaviest bombing of the May Blitz. The bombardment, which ran from 1 to 7 May, saw Liverpool (now World) Museum almost destroyed.

Our online exhibition Bombed Out! World Museum and the Blitz commemorates the event. As devastating as the raid was, thankfully, as Lolo in this blog describes, there were some very fortunate evacuees! Read more…

Don Pedro: the elephant that died twice

22 April 2016 by Emma Martin

Don Pedro (the elephant) standing proud at the centre of the Upper Horseshoe Gallery before 3 May 1941

Don Pedro (the elephant) standing proud at the centre of the Upper Horseshoe Gallery before 3 May 1941

University of Manchester student Lolo is working on our new online exhibition that will be launched 3 May. Here’s his latest blog on some of the objects and specimens that feature in it.

“Many of you may already know that the King of Prussia Jug was one of the Blitz survivors. But not all the stories relating to the museum’s objects and specimens had a happy ending. There were also hundreds if not thousands of casualties. I was very upset when we heard about the sad story of Don Pedro, a male Indian elephant once in the zoology collection. They say cats have nine lives, but poor Don Pedro had just two. Read more…

What happened in the Ceramics Gallery during the Blitz?

7 April 2016 by Emma Martin

Museum staff picking up the pieces in the ceramics gallery after the Blitz

Museum staff picking up the pieces in the ceramics gallery after the Blitz

Lolo is working on the development of an on-line exhibition that explores what happened to World Museum during the Blitz. Here is his second blog, looking at the fate of the ceramics gallery.

The ceramics gallery was one of the galleries that suffered serious damage during the Blitz of May 1941. Rare pieces from the museum’s collection were still on display on the night of 3 May and as the museum crumbled many of the ceramics shattered into pieces. 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.