I have grouped this tip under the museum section, and this is partly accurate, although this place really is so much more than that. It is the Conservation Centre and the staff here look after the vast amounts of artefacts owned by all the Liverpool museums, quite a daunting task.
It is a fascinating place, naturally somewhat eclectic. There is just about everything on display from the obvious paintings and statues to things like a vintage motorcycle, which was my favourite exhibit. These exhibits are there however, to display the techniques used by the conservators, and these are in themselves fascinating. For example, I did not know that cleaning of stonework by laser rather than the traditional sand or water blasting was far more sympathetic to the stone.
There is also a section where one of the conservators is working, and you are encouraged to ask them about what they are doing. The young lady appeared to be rather busy, however, so I did not bother her with my inane questioning!
On the upper level, not really part of the conservation theme, there was a wonderful exhibition of photographs by Stephen Shakeshaft, a local newpaper photographer for many years. It is a temporary exhibition and only runs until 24 January 2010. I would highly recommend a visit if you can manage it.
It is not the largest museum by any means and you could easily see everything in an hour, but it is certainly worth a visit. It is open daily from 1000 - 1700 and, like most British museums, is free to enter. For mobility impaired visitors, it appears to be fully accessible.
I realise that this is supposed to be a part of the Merseyside Maritime Musem but given it's size, occupying nearly the entire basement of the building, I feel it merits a seperate tip. It is effectively a Museum of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), formerly Her Majesty's Customs and Excise (HMC&E). I know from personal friends that this amalgamation does not sit easily with either organisation!
This very interesting exhibition covers the history of the Revenue men, as they were formerly called, although it seems to be focused on the more modern aspects of their job. There are some very good interactive exhibits including interactive units and a "hands on" find the contraband display. Frankly, the ingenuity of smugglers is amazing.
HMRC deal with a lot of things. Obviously the alcohol, tobacco and perfume you would think of, but they are also involved in combatting people smuggling, weapons and even CITES products. The latter are basically endangered species, tortoise shells, certain snake skins, various animal products for traditional Chinese medicine etc. Given the amount of gun crime in the UK the display of seized weapons (pictured) is frightening.
Very well-presented, it is worth spending some time in. Oh, and if you visit, I managed to pass the test to be a Customs officer, have a go yourself!
The Museum of Slavery co-exists in the same building as the Merseyside Maritime Musem, and that makes sense. Much of Liverpool's prosperity in years past was brought about by the pernicious trade in humans from West Africa to the colonies of the West indies, and to a lesser extent, South America.
I visited here with an enquiring mind. The actual slavery exhibits are prefixed with a very harrowing and relevant exhibition about modern human trafficking which is frankly not for the faint hearted.
The main exhibition is very informative, giving graphic descriptions of the life of a slave in the Colonies, and accompanied by very good artefacts, models, contemporary descriptions and the like.
What I found unpalatable however was the seamless transition, if following the suggested path through the floor, how a slavery exhibition, the stated object of the Museum, transformed into a celebration of immigration into the UK of the descendents of some of these unfortunate slaves in the mid to late 20th century. It smacked to me of a political agenda, because there is no link here. There have been non-white people in Britain for many hundreds of years, a miniscule minority of which could be described as slaves. Why then, the implied correlation? I realise politics are not allowed in VT, and quite rightly so, it is a travel site, but I feel in the interests of fairness as to a place I have visited, these comments are justified.
Also, and in the same vein, there seemed to be no mention whatsoever of the historically proven part played by West African tribal chiefs in the slave trade. This hideous traffic in human misery would not have been possible without the connivance of Africans, as Europeans did not have the wherewithal to capture that number of slaves. Totally ignored. Is this a truth too unpalatable for modern British taste?
I trust museums generally. Certainly, in places like Laos and Cambodia, I will expect a certain political bias, and amend my views accordingly, but I do not expect it in a British Museum. Interestingly, on the same day, I visited the National Conservation Centre and saw a wonderful photographic exhibition by a man called Stephen Shakeshaft, a local photographer, who did much more to describe the obvious problems of immigrants to the UK generally, and Liverpool specifically, than this Museum ever will.
As I say, criticizing a museum in this country does not sit well with me, and this is the first time in my VT career, or indeed elsewhere, I have felt the need to, but in the interests of fairness I feel compelled to alert the reader to my concerns.
By all means visit, it is worth seeing, but remember what it is you are not told and what it is you are meant to be seeing.
The history of Liverpool is inextricably linked with the sea and seafaring and it is only natural that there would be a Maritime Museum here. Indeed, I discovered in the Maritime Museum here that the town was actually founded by granting a Royal Charter to the fishing village of Lyrepool (which means muddy pool) as the King of the day wanted to establish a maritime base to invade Ireland.
As I mentioned in my indroductory page to Liverpool, my first sight of the city was from the sea, albeit only a short passage from Belfast in the 1970's, but many millions of people left here, principally for America, and many sailors returned here from all over the globe. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, many more sailors never returned. Interestingly, I still sing a song in my music career called "The leaving of Liverpool" and there are many more in similar vein, particulary and appropriately, sea shanties.
This Museum is hugely interesting for anyone with even a passing interest in the sea, or even anyone with an interest in the city in which it stands. Set fittingly in an old dockside building there are exhibits covering the whole gamut of sailing history. I was particularly taken with the Second World War section and the section about the Titanic. Coming from Belfast, where the ill-fated ship was built, it seemed quite close to home.
Admission, as in most UK museums, is free and opening hours are from 1000 - 1700 hours every day except Christmas and New Years Day.
On a day's relentless sightseeing in Liverpool recently, I visited the World Museum, and very interesting it was too. As the title suggests, there is a bias towards educating youngsters, a perfectly noble ambition, and the hordes (I use the word advisedly) of kids about the place bear witness to their success in this direction.
Situated over a number of floors in a delightful old building (see photos), there does not seem to be any main theme. A decent aquarium sits close to an excellent collection of Egyptian artefacts, close by a great exhibition of world cultures, and much more.
Speaking of the Egyptian exhibition, the staff in this Museum are great. I was leaving the Egyptian room, primarlily to avoid a particularly noisy group of 7 year olds when I was accosted by an attendant asking had I seen a particular exhibit. Actually, I hadn't and, with obvious pride, she showed me a belt worn by an ancient King (one of the Rameses, I believe). We had a good discussion about the workmanship involved in it and the possible provenance of certain stains. It was evident she was keen to show visitors what the Museum had to offer as opposed to the sour-faced attendants evident in so many museums worldwide. A nice touch, I thought.
As with most UK museums now, entrance is free, although donations are gratefully received, and it certainly is worth donating for what is a very interesting experience. I probably spent two hours here, although I could have spent much longer had I had time.
The Museum is open from 1000 - 1700 hours each day, excepting Christmas and New Years Day.
All things nautical! The Merseytime Maritime Museum relates the story of Liverpool's development as a port and shipbuilding center - and its connection to the transatlantic slave trade as well. The Maritime Museum houses very interesting exhibits about some of the ill-fated ships connected with the Merseyside region, including the Titantic and Luisitania liners. (Cunard was headquartered in Liverpool.) Another exhibit deals with the important roles played by customs and excise officials - and some of the contraband that they have seized over the centuries.
The International Slavery Museum occupies one of the MMM's floors - but there's a little too much information crammed onto one floor, if you were to ask me. They try to tell ALL of the history of slavery - and its effects - in one place. I think it's great to have a slavery musuem in Liverpool, but it really deserves its own building. (As it stands, the Slavery Museum would be better pedagogically if it were more narrowly focused, I think.)
Wonderful "Civic art gallery" (i.e., originally a municipal collection) with some exceptional paintings, many Pre-Raphaelite beauties in particular. The Walker also has a fine collection of Renaissance Italian art, much of which entered the Walker through the donations of 19th century industrial magnates who were very fond of 15th and early 16th century masterpieces.
The main collection of the Walker is free, although there is a charge for special exhibits.
The Walker opened in 1877, making it one of the older Municipal art galleries in the world.
World Museum combines historic treasures from across the globe with the latest interactive technology. We rather hurried this museum but did see the aqurium and an excellent exhibition on the history of pop music in Liverpool from Frankie Vaughan through the Merseybeat years to todays the Zutons.
We also had lunch here and the cafe had some wonderful pies - high pies with fluted edges that I had never seen before with some unusual fillings - mine was toad in the hole.
I will explore this museum more on a future visit.
The Walker is one of England's finest art galleries - far more interesting than my last visit to the National Gallery in London a few weeks previously. There is art here from medieval times to the present time and instantly recognisable paintings such as one of my favourites - "When did you last see your father?".
The best painting however is Ben Johnsons "Liverpool Cityscape " which is an exceptionally detailed painting of Liverpool from the waterfront.
There are constant changing exhibitions within and we saw paintings of George Melly and another of art in sports clothes design.
The cafe has one of the best cups of coffee in Liverpool and a selection of hot meals and snacks.
If you only have time for one gallery in Liverpool choose this one.
This museum is all about Liverpool's connections with the sea. Permanent exhibitions include one on three doomed ships with Liverpool links: the Titanic, the Lusitania and the Empress of Ireland; the World War II Battle of the Atlantic; and Life at Sea.
There is currently a temporary exhibition called 'Magical History Tour' about the history of Liverpool from 1207 to the present (until 27 September 2009), which I found very interesting.
Opening hours are 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and admission is free.
The World Museum in Liverpool is a bit like a miniature version of London's British Museum, Science Museum and Natural History Museum combined.
The 'Ancient World' floor, strangely, has exhibits relating to Rome, Greece and Anglo-Saxon England. Ancient Egypt is currently being rebuilt and will re-open in December 2008.
There is currently also a rather good temporary exhibition called 'The Beat Goes on' about all the music associated with Liverpool over the past 60 years (not just the Beatles) - it runs until 1 November 2009.
Admission is free. Open 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily.
There is a coffee shop on the ground floor and a cafe on the top floor.
The Walker Art Gallery is a municipal Art Gallery with an exceptional collection of fine and decorative art. It has permanent exhibition rooms covering medieval and renaissance, 17th-century, 18th-century, Victorian and 20th-century art, as well as space for special exhibitions. Highlights include 'Self-portrait as a Young Man' by Rembrandt and 'Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool' by David Hockney.
Open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Admission is free.
There is a cafe serving savoury dishes and snacks, at very reasonable prices on the ground floor.
Located in the rather Hogwart’esque Victoria building the Victoria Museum & Gallery is finally open and free! Designed in 1888 by the Liverpool born architect Alfred Waterhouse this impressive heap of gothic excess was the original home of Liverpool University College and the origin of the term ‘red brick’ university. The building had outgrown its use and after much head scratching was kindly 'gifted' back to the city whose philanthropy paid for it. It appears the university also emptied out their cupboards in search of suitable exhibits and have produced an eclectic mix of the weird and wonderful. Gaze in wonderment at many preserved creepy critters, Egyptian artefacts worthy of Indiana Jones and skeletons of everything from a Hedwig type owl to a famous racehorse. Gasp at the paintings of improbable looking birds by the famous American artist JJ Audubon and fall asleep at the display of old calculating machines that will have the Grandpa Simpsons amongst you droning on about “I remember in my day…….” For a bit of levity relax in the airy café and amuse yourself with the exhibits found during building renovation including embarrassing post cards sent and lost by students back in the days when even travelling to the shops was something of an adventure.
The Walker Art Gallery is an art gallery in Liverpool, which houses one of the largest art collections in England, outside of London. It is promoted as "the National Gallery of the North".
It houses a collection including many Italian and Netherlandish paintings from 1350–1550, European art from 1550–1900 including works by Rembrandt, Poussin and Degas, 18th and 19th century British art, including a major collection of Victorian painting and many Pre-Raphaelite works, a wide collection of prints, drawings and watercolours, 20th century works by artists such as Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Gilbert and George and a major sculpture collection.
I liked this gallery, its well laid out and easy to wander from room to room safe in the knowledge you won't miss much as the layout is logical and thought through. Try doing the same in the Venice Academia!
TATE Liverpool came up with a quite interesting exhibition about the works of Niki de Saint-Phalle when I was there (until May 5th 2008). Among the items shown were several of her early works in which she tried some kind of destructive art - meaning, she shot bullets through aerosol cans filled with paint and let them blot colour all over the rest of the painting.
Apart from this exhibition there is an exhibition about the twentieth century (DLA Piper Series) which goes on until spring 2009.
TATE Liverpool is located in the premises of Albert Dock and can therefore be combined with a visit to the Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum which are just around the corner.