As Storm Dennis hit last weekend I decided to take myself into the warm and dry Museum of Liverpool for a look around, and friends it did not disappoint!
With 3 floors covering the pre-historic to present day Liverpool, there was a lot to see!
According to some interpretation training I once received, a museums audience can be split into: strollers, studiers and streakers. Strollers (of which I am one) tend to read the beginning of a museum’s interpretation panel and continue if the topic interests them. Studiers are rarer and try and read everything they can in a museum, and finally streakers tend to just read the titles of panels. So as I strolled my way through I got a good flavour of the exhibitions on display.
One of the highlights for me was the history of the dockside and Liverpool’s role as a maritime city. Part of my family’s ancestry is comprised of Southampton dockers, so this was definitely of interest to me. There has been constant passage of people in and out of the city for the last few hundred years and between 1840-1930 more than 9 million people sailed from Liverpool emigrating to the USA, Canada and Australia. The dock’s history was showcased in interpretation panels, videos, audios and historic objects.
Another highlight for me was the Global City section which explored Liverpool’s connections with the countries it traded with, like China. In 1999 Liverpool became a twinned city with Shanghai who it has long term links with. Many Chinese seaman came to Liverpool and this resulted in the creation of Europe’s oldest Chinatown, as many seaman settled here. The Liverpool ships dominated trade with Shanghai and Hong Kong during the 19th Century. What was also interesting was this section of the museum covered the forced repatriation of Chinese seaman, taking them from their families forever in 1946. This tragic event still has repercussions today for their children left behind. It’s a difficult topic that deserves attention and the Museum of Liverpool delivered that.
The Global History section referenced the transatlantic slave trade, of which Liverpool played a key role. They didn’t go into too much detail, as the International Slavery Museum covers this topic in great detail across Albert Dock, but what they did include showed Liverpool doesn’t shy away from difficult parts of its history.
The Blitzed Liverpool Lives was an interesting exhibit, featuring photographs showing the destruction and devastation caused by bombing during World War 2. It included anecdotes from survivors, a key inclusion that brought this episode of Liverpool’s history to life.
Probably my favourite part though was the timeline! This showed Liverpool from the beginning to present day, through interpretation, archival documents and artefacts.
A museum should inspire, document and provide food for thought and the Museum of Liverpool without a doubt delivers all three. It was great to see how accessible they’ve made the space, with room for wheelchair access, braille interpretation and sign language options on the many videos.
I’d highly recommend anyone passing through Liverpool should pay a visit! Have you been before? What did you think of the museum? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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