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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…

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…

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…

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…

Liverpool Police Strike 1919 centenary

1 August 2019 by Kay

100 years ago a number of police officers across the country went out on strike. The heart of this national Police Strike was in Liverpool, Birkenhead and Bootle.

We have a number of items in the collections of the Museum of Liverpool which relate to this significant event. The most striking is this wonderful painting of Bob Tissyman who played a major organising role in the city. It was painted by renowned local artist David Jacques.

Police Sergeant Robert (Bob) Tissyman was the Liverpool leader of the ‘unrecognised’ NUPPO (National Union of Police & Prison Officers), and organiser of the union’s eight branches in the city. He was born in 1869, joined Liverpool City Police in October 1894 and lived in Edge Hill.

955 Liverpool union members went on strike for improved pay, conditions and for the right to belong to a union. Smaller strikes also occurred in London and Birmingham. Read more…

That’s the way to do it! Codman family member rekindles Punch and Judy memories

26 July 2019 by Kay

The name Codman’s Punch and Judy immediately conjures up memories for generations of Liverpool people. Many have laughed, cheered and booed at the show.

Codman’s Punch and Judy booth, previously on display in Wondrous Place gallery

Professor Codman first brought Punch and Judy to Liverpool in the 1860s. Codman’s theatre was originally located in Lime Street, then later at Williamson Square.

A member of the Codman dynasty, Paul Codman recently came to view items in the Museum of Liverpool’s collections related to the family business.

We have the original booth with proscenium arch,  Mr Punch, Judy, The Judge and Mr Crocodile puppets (previously on display in the Wondrous Place gallery and in The Museum of Liverpool Life), along with pamphlets and tickets. Seeing the objects brought back some strong memories for Paul.  As a 12 year old schoolboy in the early 1970s he helped his grandad Richard Codman and Uncle Ronnie to do the shows. They performed in schools, fetes and parks across the city in the summer holidays, including Newsham, Sefton and Walton Hall Parks. They also played at The Liverpool Show. He was paid a grand total of five bob a day. Read more…

Family’s Blitz memories shared and displayed

5 July 2019 by Kay

Formal portrait photo of a smartly dressed young girl

Elizabeth as a child. Courtesy of Jean Phillips

As part of our exhibition Blitzed: Liverpool Lives we are gathering responses to the images and first-hand experiences featured in the exhibition.

Jean Phillips kindly contacted us via our Facebook page with information about her family in response to the photograph of Louisa Street, Everton. I have added this poignant information to the exhibition alongside the Museum label. Read more…

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. Read more…

Father’s Day at National Museums Liverpool

4 June 2019 by Megan

The countdown is on. Father’s Day is round the corner and it’s safe to say most of us need a plan!

Don’t panic though National Museums Liverpool has something for even the pickiest of pas. So if he is a car enthusiast, art lover, astronomy nerd or would love a Sunday feast overlooking our beautiful waterfront take a look below at what we have on offer. Read more…

Volunteers Week spotlight – Mike from the Maritime Archives and Library

3 June 2019 by Rachel O'Malley

Mike wearing his volunteer pass

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.

This month, I met with Mike who volunteers with the Maritime Archives & Library at the North Street Warehouse. Mike has a fascinating back story and holds so much knowledge; I can see why he is a vital part of the department! Mike’s journey with National Museums Liverpool started in the 1980s as a Friend of the Merseyside Maritime Museum and following his retirement, he began volunteering with us in 2012 as a Tour Guide on the Edmund Gardner and has gone on to volunteer with the Education team and now the Archives team. Mike has been more than prepared for his volunteer roles: he has specialist knowledge acquired from his career in ship building and engineering design.

When he started as a Tour Guide on the Edmund Gardiner, Mike explained that he was terrified of public speaking and he was even more terrified after he had undergone his training! However, following the applause that he received after his first tour, he was hooked! 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.