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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…

Who is Taki Katei?

15 October 2019 by Alex Blakeborough

‘Drawing on Nature: Taki Katei’s Japan’ is now on at Word Museum, but who is Taki Katei? Here are our top ten facts about this forgotten master!

Taki Katei

Photograph of Taki Katei, 1890s. Reproduced from Murayama Jungo, Taki Katei shōden (Tokyo: Kokkasha, 1906)

Read more…

The (even longer) long history of the Calderstones

1 October 2019 by Liz

The Calderstones (or Calder Stones as they’re historically known) are the fascinating remnants of a Neolithic chambered tomb in Calderstones Park. A recent project by The Reader has conserved the stones and made them accessible again – you can visit them daily 10am-4pm and explore them in detail. There is lots of great information about them and the history of the Mansion House and the Park!

ancient carvings on a large stone

Calderstones. Photograph by George Nash and Adam Stanford © Aerial-Cam

The Calderstones are carved with numerous symbols dating from the Neolithic period (around 3000 BC) to modern times. Some of the most intriguing carvings are spirals which are similar to markings seen on similar tombs in Ireland and north Wales – suggesting some prehistoric cultural links around the Irish Sea.

The stones are a very special monument in Liverpool, of which I’m very proud. The spirals carved on them even inspired our floor decoration in the Museum of Liverpool!

It’s always interesting to hear people describe archaeological objects from a different point of view, though, and geologists see the sandstone of these monuments in a completely different light! Far from being 5000 years old (as the oldest carvings are) these stones themselves were formed in the Triassic, 260 to 230 million years ago! Read more…

Hanging out: The histories of Liverpool’s laundry life

23 September 2019 by Kay

Kerrie. Courtesy of Kitty’s Launderette.

Hi, my name is Kerrie McGiveron and I am the lead researcher on an amazing community-led oral history project ‘Hanging Out: The Histories of Liverpool’s Laundry Life.’ The project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will explore Liverpool’s washhouses and the communities around them. I am looking forward to working with the Museum of Liverpool to produce a display based on my research and the oral history interviews I have conducted to celebrate the history and lived experience of our Liverpool community. Watch this space! Read more…

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…

The Caul, an object of sailor’s superstitions

17 September 2019 by Jen

Folded piece of amniotic tissue known as a caul.

1986.72.1 – Caul from the Merseyside Maritime Museum collections, still folded up as it would have been carried by a seafarer. This will be on display in our new Seafarers gallery in 2020.

17 September 2019 marks the 79th anniversary of the sinking of child evacuee ship the City of Benares She was sunk mid-Atlantic by a German u-boat with catastrophic loss of life, particularly amongst the young evacuees she was carrying. The Royal Navy rushed to rescue survivors but, after a dangerous dash through the night, arrived to find that many of those who had survived the torpedo had perished in the freezing conditions. Only a handful of the hundred children on board were amongst the survivors.

Utterly unexpectedly, eight days after the sinking, Lifeboat number 12 was found containing another 45 survivors, and amongst them were a further six of the children. Read more…

Walking for Health

9 September 2019 by Steven Williams

Walking tour
Every Friday morning, a small group of intrepid folk meet at the World Museum on William Brown Street and head out for an hour’s walk around the city centre. For over 10 years now, National Museums Liverpool has been encouraging people to be more active with its support of the local Walking for Health scheme.

Read more…

Merchant Navy Day

2 September 2019 by Rebecca

Ships painted in geometric dazzle patterns on the Liverpool waterfront

Dazzle painted ships in the Mersey, off the Liverpool waterfront by Leonard Campbell Taylor, about 1918.

Tuesday 3 September marks Merchant Navy Day when we honour the brave men and women who made many sacrifices to keep Britain alive during both World Wars, and appreciate the UK’s modern day seafarers who are responsible for transporting most of our every day items, such as food and fuel. On this day the Red Ensign, the official Merchant Navy flag, will be flown across the UK.

In the Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Battle of Atlantic gallery and on our website you can find out more information about the Merchant Navy’s vital role in keeping Britain going during these very difficult times. From 1939 the Battle of Atlantic lasted six years and was the longest campaign of the war. Liverpool was Britain’s most important port during the war as the UK depended on its vital North Atlantic shipping routes for food and other imports, which therefore made the city a major target.

Liverpool’s merchant seafarers, ships, dock workers and sailors played a major role to ensure Britain’s survival. Liverpool registered ships were part of Britain’s ocean going merchant fleet. Between 1939 and 1945 the Port of Liverpool handled more 75 million tons of cargo. The Liverpool Pilotage Service was responsible for guiding ships amongst an unlit Liverpool waterfront, whilst also contending with enemy mines and air raids.

It’s fitting on Merchant Navy day to recognise the sacrifices made by seafarers in the First World War as well. In 2012 the museum acquired the painting, ‘Dazzle painted ships in the Mersey, off the Liverpool waterfront’ by Leonard Campbell Taylor which shows camouflage ships with these patterns during the First World War, the main ship we believe to be the Cunard line ship Mauretania. The painting on display in the museum’s Lusitania gallery, is a reminder that even during times of conflict, the Port of Liverpool and its ships and seafarers continued to work to keep the country supplied with food, fuel and other cargo, just as they do today.

Discover the story behind the photograph

30 August 2019 by Matt Smith

We caught up with award-winning astro-photographer Mark McNeill (and his daughter Maisy) when they visited the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition recently.

Mark’s stunning image, ‘Me versus the Galaxy’ won high commendation in the People and Space category of the competition. Here he tells the story behind this fantastic example of astrophotography.

“When we first arrived (at Sycamore Gap, Northumberland) the moon was in the air, with all sorts of satellites and shooting stars going over. I set my tripod up to do a time-lapse taking a photo every second. I was running up, lighting the tree with a torch to see what it looked like, so it’s actually me you see in the photo, it adds a little bit of scale and tells a story of just how small you are against the Winter Milky Way in the background.

Over the night I must have taken over twenty images of me pointing the torch this way, pointing the torch that way. The first image that I took that I liked was a colour version. I would say that 90% of Milky Way images are colour images so I decided to take the colour away to make it look a little different, more unique.

I posted the image on Twitter and tagged Brian Cox in. He said it was one of the most beautiful images he’d seen and retweeted it. It then went a bit haywire! That’s when I entered the competition. Shortly afterwards I got an email saying one of my images was short-listed, then one saying it was award winning and that I was invited to the award ceremony in London. I was over the moon, really proud!

My favourite from the exhibition is a picture of the sun. Technically, how could someone manage to do that? The effort that goes in to capturing these deep space images… it’s magical.

I would say to anybody that wants to do astrophotography – go somewhere dark, you can buy apps and maps that tell you where’s best – you don’t have to go miles – a tripod isn’t necessary but helps when you take a long exposure, you cant physically hold the camera that still. A normal camera set to manual, even a smartphone can have a good night mode; it doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.

Together is better

19 August 2019 by Laura Pye

Laura Pye at Liverpool's waterfront

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool. Picture by Gareth Jones

The International Slavery Museum welcomes the discussion around a London museum on slavery. The work we do here every day promotes education about this critical part of our UK and global history – which is by no means consigned to the past. Our very purpose is for more people to know, and confront, this history, so the more discussion about it, the better.

We opened in 2007 in recognition of the need for a major, national museum that addressed the UK’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies. Since opening, we have welcomed more than 4.5 million visitors. We hold the world’s first permanent modern slavery collection and have hosted over 250,000 visits by schoolchildren. The support for us in response to Sadiq Khan’s call for a London slavery museum has been quite overwhelming.

If the London museum proceeds, it should build on the work already done here at the existing International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, and the good work already established by many museums across the UK, including the Museum of London. Because the power of museums working together is immense. 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.