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Cultures gallery has incredible collections from Africa, Asia, Oceania and The Americas, but the presentation is now out of date and perpetuates stereotypes and assumptions about people and places.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?
“I recently visited the bird collection at World Museum Liverpool as part of my team’s research on the birds of Lord Howe Island. Situated in the Tasman Sea, about halfway from Australia to New Zealand, Lord Howe is home to about 350 people, and has a troubling ornithological history. First visited in 1788 (and with no evidence of pre-colonial inhabitation), it has now lost 9 species of bird, including some species and subspecies found nowhere else.
“We are beginning to study the history of these extinctions, and the biology of the birds that are now gone. Thanks to museum specimens, including several in Liverpool like the Lord Howe Gerygone, and the endemic subspecies of Metallic Starling, we can piece together when these birds disappeared, find out how unique they were, and potentially inform future plans to reintroduce closely-related species once the island’s rats and mice are eradicated (currently planned for the Austral winter of 2019).”
14 January 2019 by Chrissy Partheni
Just before Christmas we opened the exhibition ‘Beauty and Virtue: 18th century English collecting of classical art’ at the National Museum of Anthropology – the largest and most visited museum in Mexico City. It’s taken two years of careful planning and has involved the work of different NML teams and an ongoing collaboration with our Mexican colleagues from INAH. Showcasing the diversity and richness of our collections, the core of the exhibition is from the sculpture collections of Henry Blundell, alongside paintings from the Walker’s and Lady Lever Art Gallery’s collections, including works on papers and Wedgwood material. They serve well to introduce the theme of 18th century Grand Tour and also help demonstrate the influence classical antiquity had on artists’ education and training, and the new ways artists reimagined the ancient classical world.
12 November 2018 by John Wilson
Vertebrates are animals with backbones. The vertebrate animal group (and our vertebrate zoology collections at World Museum) includes the large animals everyone’s familiar with – mammals, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Although National Museums Liverpool now has varied collections and exhibits the first museum, which later became World Museum, was a museum of vertebrates! So it’s with a huge sense of honour and great responsibility that I take on the role as the new curator of vertebrates at World Museum. I started working at World Museum in mid-September and have slowly been familiarising myself with our massive collection of animals.
14 September 2018 by Ann
It’s only three days to launch for a new programme of Planetarium shows! From Monday 17 September you can explore the mysteries of the universe and the wonders of the night sky with our mind blowing shows without leaving the comfort and safety of your seat. Our shows explain the latest scientific discoveries for young and old alike and feature current scientific research that helps us learn more about planet Earth and our universe.
For only £3 for Adults and £2 for children (aged 3+) and concessions, far less than a ticket on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflights, let us take you into space and widen your horizons.
Better still National Museums Liverpool members can now see Planetarium shows for free, just collect a ticket from the ground floor information desk on the day before you jet up to the fifth floor Space and Time gallery. Read more…
Part of the ongoing work we do here behind the scenes at World Museum involves dealing with loan requests from other museums. This usually happens when a museum is putting on an exhibition and they need extra objects from other collections to help tell their exhibition’s story. Read more…
When most people think of ancient Greece, the Classical city of Athens usually springs to mind. Yet, Sparta in the Peloponnese, is known as the military state and is the total antithesis of the city of Athens. This is where you would find the prolific Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, one of the most important religious sites in the ancient city and the centre of religious rituals that we still know very little about.
The World Museum has 83 lead votive offering figurines from the sanctuary in its collection. Other findings at the sanctuary – excavated by the British School at Athens in 1906 – included figurines made of terracotta and ivory, along with masks. The sheer number of offerings found at the site demonstrates the importance of the sanctuary.
The lead figurines start to be offered around the 8th century B.C. The figurines at this time were well made, fairly thick and were cast in shapes that imitated expensive jewellery offerings, including earrings. In the following century (700-635BC) there was a boom in the different types of figurines being offered, including animals, both real and mythical, as well as representations of the goddess.
It’s at this time we see evidence of the goddess being addressed as ‘Orthia’ on pottery and tiles. Orthia is the Greek word for ‘standing’, but it also could have been the name given to the Spartan winged animal goddess of women and fertility.
In later periods there is evidence of her being referred to as ‘Artemis-Orthia’. There’s a possibility that Orthia was merged with the Greek goddess ‘Artemis’, who has similar qualities being a mistress of the animals. However in Ancient Greek art representations, Artemis is often depicted as a maiden huntress in a skirt carrying a spear. In around 635-600 BC winged goddesses were popular, as well as women wearing skirts, suggesting that both interpretations of the goddess were used by different individuals at the same time.
Figurines dating to 600-500 BC suggest an ideological shift to the Greek style Artemis, rather than Orthia. In this period deer – Artemis’ most sacred animal – are introduced, and other animals decrease in number. Other gods, including Poseidon (Artemis’ uncle) and Hermes (Artemis’ half brother) also start being used along with warriors. This is also the peak time for the number of figurines found. The shift in figurines offered coincides with the building of a second temple around 570BC and an expansion of the old temple.
The figurines gradually become poorer quality, and many of them have not survived. Around the 3rd century AD the Romans had taken over the region and built a theatre around the temple, welcoming tourists to watch ritual displays. It is probable that the figurines became more crude as the offerings became a novelty for tourists.
24 July 2018 by Tracey McGeagh
We were delighted to find three of our museums listed in a piece about accessibility in the Liverpool Echo recently. Respected website Euan’s Guide includes World Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum in the top ten accessible attractions in Liverpool. Read more…