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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

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

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.

 

 

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…

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…

Volunteers Week spotlight – Melissa from House of Memories

Emma (L) and Melissa (R)

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.

National Museums Liverpool is definitely a varied place to work not only do we offer world class collections but we have award winning departments behind the scenes too. It’s probably easy to overlook the work that goes into our museums by a whole range of people from across the organisation, but I’m lucky that on my Spotlight visits I get to meet colleagues from different departments and hear about their projects. One common point that every supervisor has made is that, having a volunteer, placement student or intern helps them to appreciate their own roles more and how fortunate we are to work where we do. I know I certainly do!

Melissa is a Hope University student who is currently completing a placement with the House of Memories team whilst studying for her Museums and Heritage MA. As part of the House of Memories team she has been supporting the Happy Older People (HOP) network since March and it has enabled her meet a wide range of people, learn about the varied roles in the organisation and experience the amazing community work that is taking place. 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…

Archaeology Twitter Conference – Call for Papers!

30 May 2019 by Vanessa

This year as part of our Festival of Archaeology celebrations we are hosting an archaeology Twitter conference! A Twitter conference means that anyone anywhere can attend and you can even catch up after the event by following our hashtag #ArchMoL19.

If you would like to submit a paper for our conference, all you need is a Twitter account and to send us your proposal. We want to find out about your favourite discoveries from Merseyside this year (2018/19). A favourite discovery could be a find or a site, but could alternatively be about a methodology, a way of working with students, or an approach to interpretation.

Read more…

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day

29 May 2019 by Karen O'Rourke

On 6 June, we will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day, Normandy Landings. This was the start of the Allied forces operation to liberate Europe, which would eventually lead to the end of the Second World War. In recognition of the part played by men from the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, we are staging a small display on the first floor of the Museum of Liverpool from Saturday 25 May to Wednesday 17 July.

Two battalions from the Regiment took part. Both were allocated the role of Beach Group, which involved securing the Beach, providing cover and directing the landed troops and equipment once ashore. It also involved gathering up the dead and wounded whenever there was a lull in the German bombardment. Anyone who has seen the first few minutes of the film Saving Private Ryan will understand that being part of a Beach Group was no easy task. For our two local battalions, the 5th based at Sword Beach and the 8th based at Juno Beach, that task lasted six weeks. After this, the 8th Battalion were disbanded, while the 5th Battalion moved inland with the advancing Allied troops. For more information on the part the Regiment played in the Second World War, at D-Day, in Italy and in Burma, you can visit our City Soldiers gallery.

Our new D-Day display will focus on the story of one man; Sergeant Cyril Askew 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.