We visited the Museum of Liverpool on Easter Monday. Our main motivation was to view the exhibition of paintings by Beryl Bainbridge that’s showing there until the end of April, but we also wanted to have a look round the main exhibits. The Museum is located at the end of “Mann Island” between the Albert Dock and the “Three Graces” at the Pier Head and opened in 2011. It’s located in a purpose built, very modern building designed by Danish architects 3XN.
Picture source: Wikipedia
Although the Museum has been open for about 18 months, it’s the first time we’d visited. The displays cover four main themes: The Great Port and Global City, on the ground floor and People’s Republic and Wondrous Place on the Second Floor. There are three other displays on the first floor. History Detectives covers the history and archaeology of Liverpool. The City Soldiers gallery tells the story of the King’s Regiment and there was also a very interesting display about the old Liverpool Overhead Railway. A couple of film shows, one about the Beatles and another about Liverpool’s football heritage, were also shown at regular intervals in the Wondrous Place Gallery and there were activities taking place throughout the day for children.
The displays covered a lot of ground between them so were, inevitably, rather superficial. But I guess that couldn’t be avoided. If they whetted visitors’ appetites and made them want to find out more about the history of the city, then I think the Museum will have served it’s purpose well.
The highlights for me included the bronze cast made of local gymnast Beth Tweddle’s body which was displayed in the entrance hall
the Lion, a locomotive from the Manchester Liverpool railway (made in 1838)
the exhibition about the old Liverpool Overhead Railway, which seemed to be particularly popular with older visitors from Liverpool
the large scale model of Lutyens’ original design for Liverpool’s Catholic cathedral, which is very different from the every modern structure that was built in the 1960’s
the stained glass map of Merseyside
the sculptures of ‘The Builder’ and ‘The Architect’ taken from the entrance archways of the Gerard Gardens flats, Hunter Street, which had been built in the 1930s, when they were demolished
which were very characteristic of the 1930’s and reminded us of the sculptures of Eric Gill,
the Liverpool Cityscape by Ben Johnson, commissioned to create The Liverpool Cityscape for the city’s year as European Capital of Culture year in 2008, which we’d previously seen displayed in the Walker Art Gallery
Chris Boardman’s yellow jersey from the Tour de France, Olympic medal and other memorabilia
the various music related displays
the mural on the wall just outside the Wondrous Place gallery, which was inspired by the Super Star Fucker Andy Warhol Text Painting, by Peter Davies which won the John Moore’s painting prize in 2002 and is displayed in the Walker Art Gallery
The views from the large windows at each end of the building from the 2nd floor over the Pier head at one end and the Albert Dock at the other were very good and worth the visit to the museum for that alone.
There was a lot to see and time constraints meant that we weren’t able to visit all the displays, so we missed out on the Global City and the two film shows, both of which I’d have liked to have seen. I’d also have liked to spent more time looking round the building itself. So another visit will be on the cards for the near future.
Yesterday we drove over to Liverpool. We’d not been for a few months and there were new exhibitions at the Tate, Open Eye and Walker Galleries that we wanted to see. But after some miserable weather over the past couple of weeks it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day (until it clouded over late in the afternoon) and the Liverpool waterfront and historic docklands always look great in the sunshine.
As usual we parked up on a manned car park on the site of a demolished building on King’s Dock Road (cheaper than the city centre car marks and safer than parking on the street) and then crossed over and walked along by the Wapping Dock towards the Albert Dock.
The large brick warehouse along the eastern side of the dock was built in 1856 and is of a similar architectural style to the warehouses surrounding the nearby Albert Dock. It has neo-classical features including the huge cast iron Doric columns and the simple frieze running along the top of the building.
Today it’s been converted to flats.
Walking along the dock we spotted some cormorants taking in the sun.
A short walk away is the Albert Dock.
Designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick, it was opened in 1846 by Prince Albert, after who it is named. When I was at Liverpool University in the late 70’s the dock was derelict. But in 1981 the Merseyside Development Corporation was set up and the dock was redeveloped, being officially re-opened in 1988. Today it’s a major tourist attraction with shops and museums (the northern outpost of the Tate gallery and the Merseyside Maritime Museum).
The dock is dominated by the massive brick built five storey warehouses. Constructed from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood, they were designed to be fireproof.
Like the Pier Head and other nearby docks, the Albert Dock is built on land reclaimed from the Mersey and the massive granite and brick construction effectively floats on mud and silt.
After visiting the Tate, we walked along past the Museum of Liverpool Life and “Three Graces” at the pier head towards the Princes Dock. This has a very different character. All the old warehouses are gone and it’s been redeveloped with modern buildings – offices and hotels.