Blog

The Island of Extinct Birds

4 April 2019 by John Wilson

Dr Alex Bond, the Senior Curator in Charge of Birds at NHM Tring recently visited the bird collection at World Museum. Here’s what he had to say about his visit:

“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).”

Through the roof in 2018!

27 March 2019 by Laura

Terracotta General

Terracotta General © Mr. Ziyu Qiu

No two ways about it, 2018 was a blockbuster year for National Museums Liverpool.

In figures released today by ALVA it was revealed that World Museum was the most visited museum in England (outside London) last year. Read more…

Beauty and Virtue in Mexico City

14 January 2019 by Chrissy Partheni

Togate and Faustina

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.

Read more…

Behind the genes: my first month as curator

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.

Read more…

Countdown to launch!

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…

Himalayan Objects on Tour!

16 August 2018 by Alex Blakeborough

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…

Who was Artemis-Orthia?

8 August 2018 by Cicely Hill

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.

A winged female figure votive offering

A winged female figure votive offering from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. Such representations are considered to be the goddess herself.

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.

Two main fragments of a decorative plaque

Two main fragments of a decorative plaque from a votive offering associated with the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

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.

Fragments of a deer, a votive offering from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

Fragments of a deer, a votive offering from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. Deer are associated with the hunting goddess Artemis.

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.

View our Artemis Orthia collection >

A blood moon is coming!

25 July 2018 by Patrick Kiernan

Total Lunar eclipse. Image c/o alfredogarciajr via Flickr

This Friday 27 July we get the chance to see one of the wonders of the night sky: a total eclipse of the moon!

Read more…

Museums accessibility success

24 July 2018 by Tracey McGeagh

Visitors at the Museum of Liverpool.

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…

Adiós! Our Roman sculpture collection heads to Mexico

10 July 2018 by Chrissy Partheni

Over the last two years we have been preparing some of our collections of Roman sculpture for the exhibition, ‘Age of Reason’ at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

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.