There’s all sorts popping up around the Internet recently for those of a landscape persuasion. From the dozens of liver birds dotting the streets, to poking around inside old buildings, there’s something for every urban explorer. Then there’s imaginary city landscapes… Read more
Posts tagged ‘Museums’
Black History Month is held in October each year. It’s origins go back to 1926, and the work of Carter G Woodson, editor for thirty years of the Journal of Negro History. It’s aims are:
- Promote knowledge of the Black History, Cultural and Heritage
- Disseminate information on positive Black contributions to British Society
- Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people to their cultural heritage.
Any student of Liverpool history (and any Liverpool child schooled in the history of the last 300 years) knows the role of black people in the growth, development and wealth of the city, particularly in the Victorian period.
At this time every year, however, a wider debate occurs as to whether Black History Month is still relevant. Is black history not worthy of study the rest of the year? Does the study of general history not include black people to the proper extent (and what is the ‘proper extent’?).
It’s probably not an argument that can be resolved conclusively, easily, or soon, but Liverpool for all its crimes during the height of trans-Altlantic slavery is in a well-placed position to enter the debate.
Black History in Liverpool
The award-nominated International Slavery Museum at the Albert Dock is perhaps the major place to go to learn about Liverpool’s role in transatlantic slave trade, and was built on the success of the transatlantic slavery gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
As the Vision for the museum states, despite the horrors that went on as part of that trade “the story of the mass enslavement of Africans by Europeans is one of resilience and survival against all the odds, and is a testament to the unquenchable nature of the human spirit.” The museum is telling an affirmative story of the people, who are depicted as humans, not simply victims.
Another story which is being told, and which has special relevance to the subject of this blog, is that by Eric Scott Lynch on the Black History Tours.
As their website explains, the tours encourage us to “raise our eyes from the ground, both physically and metaphorically”. This, coincidentally, was how I developed an interest in the physical urban history of Liverpool: by looking at the details of the buildings, the friezes above the great doors of the Victorian institutions and the road names dotted around the city centre, you can see generally the past written out for you, and specifically the role of slavery – enslaved Africans and the wealthy who traded in them – in the creation of Liverpool as it is today.
Speaking of street signs, you may remember that Laurence Westgaph wrote a leaflet called ‘Read the Signs’ back in 2007. The leaflet covered a number of streets in Liverpool who were named after those involved in the slave trade – either making money from it or campaigning for its abolition.
A debate surrounded whether these streets should be renamed – including Penny Lane and Bold Street – or whether by keeping the streets as they are we would be reminded of how history played itself out.
There are events going on during Black History Month in Liverpool Museums. See the 2010 Events Programme for details.
You can download Laurence Westgaph’s Slavery Remembrance Tour as MP3s and an accompanying map from the Liverpool08 website.
There are a number of books covering the trans-Altantic slave trade and Liverpool’s role in it:
Liverpool Continuing Education
Another useful resource for your educational needs is of course Liverpool University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. They have an ongoing programme of courses, of which you may be most interested in History and Local History, or perhaps Irish Studies, which includes Finding the Liverpool Irish.
If you know of any courses which might be of interest to readers of this site, do get in touch. Or have you been on a course just mentioned, and want to recommend it? Let us know in the comments.
I can’t help feeling mixed emotions about recent developments for Liverpool’s heritage.
Yesterday the first object – a carriage from the Overhead Railway – was due to move in to the new Museum of Liverpool (although it was delayed by the weather). But then today we hear that the ever-present ‘current economic climate’ (my, am I getting more sick of that phrase every day) means that the National Conservation Centre, a favourite of mine, and Sudley House are at risk from closure.
The shutting down of the North West Development Agency isn’t looking like good news for our museums and other cultural institutions either. Though they plan to continue their previously NWDA-funded projects.
What is your point of view? Will our heritage projects be nipped in the bud? Or can the museums, galleries and theatres come out of this stronger?
What are the long term implications?
I did recently promise some more entertaining blog content after the ‘historic environment’-heavy post this week. So here’s something to stick on your new iPad (or other less fancy PDF readers):
History of World Museum Liverpool
The institution currently known as World Museum Liverpool has a very long history. 150 years to be precise, and it’s celebrating in various ways. Download their free PDF called Liverpool’s Museum: the first 150 years.
I’ve not read the whole thing yet, but it’s already turning into a fascinating story of figures such as Thomas John Moore, William Brown, J.A. Picton and Lord Derby, who have all, in one way or another, left their mark on the city of Liverpool.
When you’re done with that, you should watch the ‘audio slideshow‘ commemorating the even older institution of Lewis’s, featuring voice-overs from former managers and employees, and with a soundtrack of the likes of ‘In My Liverpool Home’, which mentions old Dickie in passing.
There are some great images of the 1950s cafe interior, and the shop floors in days gone by.
Now, you knew Google was getting too powerful, didn’t you? But now it’s creating whole English towns where none should be.
Do you know where Argleton is? Well, according to Google Maps it’s just off the Liverpool-Ormskirk road, near Aughton.
A trap to catch the unwary map-copier? A bad transcription of Aughton? Or a secret base where Google plans to spread it’s evil plan? You decide!
Liverpool Museum gets training grant
In the midst of economic troubles for many externally-funded organisations, National Museums Liverpool has struck lucky in getting £350,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The money will be used for audience development – reaching out to those who wouldn’t normally see the museum as ‘for them’. Six two-year placements at the new Museum of Liverpool will start from next year. More details available at Art in Liverpool.
Welcome back to the Liverpool Landscapes blog! I do hope you came checking every day while I was away ;-), but even if not, you’ll be glad to know I’m rested, relaxed and raring to go to bring you the most interesting bits of news concerning the history of Liverpool. The theme of this post seems to be milestones, in a way, so let’s start with politics…
The general election and history
The first occasion on the horizon is of course the General Election. As a civil servant, I should probably be careful what I say in the run up to May 6th, but it’s worth pointing out that the Museums Journal this month contains a short analysis of what the main parties intend to do should you vote them into power next month. (You’ll need to register to view the article, or pick up a copy of MJ in the local library).
All the parties seem to agree on free admissions to museums, a move away from targets, and on increasing access to arts and cultural institutions. However, Louise de Winter of the National Campaign for the Arts notes that Labour’s reliance on free admission to help with increased access is not enough.
The Conservatives emphasis on helping people to help themselves (“Big Society, Small Government”) may extend to the cultural sector, with an ‘arm’s length principle‘ being applied to supporting museums.
The Liberal Democrats also want to enable museums to be more independent and enterprising, and want to generate more arts and heritage money from the National Lottery through tax changes.
At the time of the Journal’s press, the Labour manifesto had not been released, but it noted that the party wanted to ensure all Britain benefits from the digital revolution, and to build on earlier schemes such as Find Your Talent.
English Heritage publish heritage protection paper
Even though the Heritage Protection Bill did not make it into the Queen’s Speech last year, work has continued on reforming the way the historic environment is cared for.
All you professional archaeologists out there will know about PPG15 and PPG16, the two documents which make rescue archaeology (and so the vast majority of professional archaeology occurring in this country) possible. These documents are both almost 20 years old, and have been replaced by Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 5.
The long term aims with heritage protection reform (HPR) are to replace the current system of listed buildings, scheduled monuments and other designations with a single, hierarchical system. This would make it easier to protect historic sites and buildings, as well as make it simpler for owners of such assets to find the information they need to effectively protect them.
The new document also covers such topics as approaches to planning, climate change issues, and the monitoring of the historic environment. It’s available to download from the Department for Communities and Local Government Planning for the Historic Environment page.
Somewhat related to this is the Government’s Statement on the Historic Environment of England 2010, which has a lovely picture of Canning Dock on the front (minus the new Mann Island developments it seems, but we’ll skip round that issue…).
In the rest of the news…
Well, those are probably the big stories of the day, but there are a few more tidbits to cover.
It’s International World Heritage Day tomorrow (18th April)! Now, I’m assuming that anyone reading this post is somehow interested in a certain World Heritage Site, and now’s your chance to raise awareness of where it is, and the work it takes to preserve and look after it.The Global Development Research Center (sic) has a few suggestions on what people can do to celebrate and commemorate.
Liverpool City Council have organised five tours of parts of the city which fit in with this year’s theme, which is the Heritage of Agriculture. Now, you may argue that Liverpool’s WHS has little to do with agriculture, but as the foremost port of the empire, merchants in Liverpool oversaw a huge proportion of the transport of the world’s agricultural produce. For details of the tours, download the leaflet from the Liverpool World Heritage web site. Places are limited, so get in early!
Speaking of mercantile heritage, the Old Dock is finally to be opened to the public on 4th May. As the BBC report, the remains of the dock wall were carefully preserved during the construction of Liverpool One, and can be seen through a window placed in the floor at the bottom of the steps from the Liverpool Wheel where the Liverpool Wheel used to stand [cheers for the correction, Adrian!].
From next month, there will be a “visitors’ facility” to allow you to view objects found during archaeological excavations there, a computer reconstruction fly-through, and the east section of the dock which has a tunnel suspected of linking to Liverpool Castle. More details are available on the Maritime Museum Liverpool web site.
And finally-finally, architects Baca have another masterplan to ruffle the feathers of the Liverpool Preservation Trust et al. This time the south docks are in the picture, and Baca want to “bring an interesting new approach to waterspace design that will unlock the potential of these wonderful docks and the World Heritage Site”.
As you know, I for one consider that the World Heritage Site needs its potential unlocking. It’s so… tied up there in those creaky old buildings.
First some museum news: the Echo is reporting that National Museums Liverpool had to pay landowners Downing £750,000 as the new Museum of Liverpool building broke a covenant drawn up in 1963.
The covenant dictated that no building be constructed within 40 feet of the River Mersey, and any building here would not be more than 40 feet tall. This was to maintain the lines of sight between the Port of Liverpool building and offices at the Albert Dock. This document was signed in 1963 when the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board sold the land the museum now stands on to Liverpool Corporation.
It seems that NML’s David Fleming chose to pay the money upfront before Dowling were tempted into suing for a predicted £70,000.
Visitor numbers up for Liverpool museums
Better publicity for NML comes in the form of visitor numbers to all the museums on Merseyside, which rose to 2.2m in 2009 from just over 2m in 2007.
Of course, 2008 was going to take some beating, so it’s good to know that the trend from the last ‘normal’ year is a positive one. You can only imagine that with the new museum next year, visitor numbers will increase again.
More details and figures for the individual museums are available on the Art in Liverpool blog.
Lewis’s lives on – for a little while longer
Now that Lewis’s has announced it’s closing down, memories turn to its ‘golden years’ in the last century.
A new exhibition by photographer Stephen King is being shown at the Conservation Centre, focussing on the fabled ‘Fifth Floor’. This is where the old cafe was, along with the biggest hair salon in the world. It’s also home to an amazing range of (now) retro design – bright colours in the post-WWII era, yellow walls, orange ceilings and blue chairs, and egg-shaped hair-dryers and 1950s lino floors.
Photographs also include portraits of Lewis’s employees past and present, to breathe some life into the eerie space.
The exhibition runs from 26th February until 30th August. You can follow the exhibition on the Lewis’s Fifth Floor blog.
Abbey Road studios finally listed
You may be aware of the current saga of Abbey Road studios in London; its future uncertain while rumours flew that it would be sold off by owners EMI.
Well, the Culture Minister Margaret Hodge has announced that she would be taking on board English Heritage’s recommendations, and would be listing the Georgian townhouse which contains the studios.
English Heritage first proposed that the building be listed in 2003, but had been ignored until this great publicity opportunity fell at the minister’s feet. Even EH had originally been reluctant to recommend listing, but current listing criteria include ‘historic’ as well as ‘architectural’ significance. And Abbey Road certainly has that.
The keys were handed over to National Museums Liverpool from the developers last week, and now the pristine Museum of Liverpool is preparing for the installation of its exhibits ahead of the 2011 opening. The Liverpool Echo has a great slideshow of the museum, including the main entrance, the giant picture window, and the central spiral staircase.
You can also sponsor part of the Jura stone cladding, or one of the seats in the auditorium. Just pop over to www.liverpool museums.org.uk/about/development/mol for more information.
I’m looking forward to seeing it when it opens!
Liverpool Map to go on display
Speaking of the museum, a new fused glass map which will take pride of place in the galleries when MoL opens next year is to go on display at the Daily Post’s offices in the city centre. There’s a blog on the Daily Post web site to keep you up to date with progress with the map.
Now if only they’d do an electronic version I could stick on my site!
Work begins on the International Garden Festival site.
After 26 years, work is finally to start on the site of the 1984 Garden Festival. The Oriental gardens will be restored, lakes dredged and undergrowth cleared. Plenty of people in the Liverpool Echo article are ‘delighted’ at the ‘milestone’. 600 homes were built straight after the Festival, and Pleasure Island gave many a young schoolkid a fun Bank Holiday in the 1990s, but developers Langtree hope that this latest phase of building will create a worthy leisure facility for Merseyside and kick-start the collapsed apartment project from 2008.
Sorry if that worries you as much as it does me, but to cheer yourself up have a look at National Museums Liverpool’s advent calendar! Apparently it looks like the one they did last year, but as I missed that one, it looks great to me!
Each day reveals a new phase in the exciting adventures of… well, you’ll have to look for yourself.
As you might gather, it’s all about the awards this week – bidding and winning.
First up, it’s the brilliant International Slavery Museum, which gained an honourable mention at the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence, awarded every two years. The museum achieved this through its ongoing work to commemorate the lives and deaths of millions of enslaved Africans, and also the legacies of slavery (racism, injustice, exploitation). François Houtart (Belgium) and Abdul Sattar Edhi (Pakistan), from Belgium and Pakistan respectively, shared the $100,000 prize itself this time.
The Black-E (formerly the Blackie) arts centre in the Great George Street Congregational Church has been awarded £50,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding to preserve its archive. The archive consists of 57,000 photos and slides and 22 filing cabinets of documents, and the project will take three years to complete. Of most interest to me, and I should think to you, is that at least some of these images and documents will end up online. As Wendy Harpe, a founding member of the team, puts it: “we’re not preserving this stuff just for the sake of it”. In addition, parts of it will be put on CD or DVD, although the article doesn’t say whether these will be available outside the Black-E itself. The physical archive will remain at the Black-E or somewhere else in the city. What’s notable is that the current Black-E website has a holding page for a ‘Museum’ section, which would be the natural place for the archive. Looking forward to seeing what comes out of this!
The final award goes to the PR campaign which kept the phrase ‘Capital of Culture‘ ringing in your ears all last year. The campaign, a co-operation between Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool Culture Company, was awarded the Best Public Sector Communications Campaign at the How Do awards this week. I think it’s clear to everybody just how much coverage the event got, locally and nationally, and it’s even been hailed the most successful Capital of Culture programme ever by the European Commission! More facts and figures about how great it was on the ArtInLiverpool blog linked to above.
Liverpool is now bidding to become the first English UNESCO City of Music. Only four other cities can lay claim to the title, including Glasgow, Bologna and Seville. Councillor Warren Bradley pinned down the importance of music to Liverpool: “Music is in Liverpool’s blood… from the days of sea shanties and Merseybeat to classical and dance.” Not sure when the ‘days of sea shanties and Merseybeat’ were, but you get his point. The most exciting thing for me is that a four month long mapping exercise will show where music is being made and played, and submitted in support of the bid. To be honest, they could do worse than to have a look at the Popular Musicscapes project funded by the AHRC and mentioned in one of my own posts a couple of years ago. Hopefully they visited the excellent Beat Goes On exhibition at World Museum Liverpool.
Well, that’s quite a long post! Any other awards we should go for? 🙂
National Museums Liverpool are putting on an exhibition at the Oomoo cafe on Smithdown Road, showcasing the way in which the road has changed over the years, reports Art in Liverpool. The exhibition, which runs throughout September, will consist of photographs and stories – the memories of old and young who live and have lived in the area – to build a picture of Smithdown Road over time.
This is precisely the thing I’m trying to do with Historic Liverpool, and it just goes to show that there is an audience out there for this kind of history, this landscape archaeology of a single road! It’s incredibly important when writing about history in such a public arena that you connect with what the audience wants, and not what you want to tell them (unless you’re confident you have a new and interesting angle, of course!). That this exhibition actively involves the local residents is excellent; they are the main audience after all. It’s a shame I don’t think I’ll be able to make it, but hopefully I can learn something from this. I know my own site is quite one-sided at the moment (I’m trying the interesting angle, which hopefully isn’t covered by other similar sites), so in future I will try to add stuff more directly related to the people of Liverpool. After all, the aim of the site is to give you insight into the history of your area, help you explore and encourage you to get out there and see the place in a new light.
I’m still finalising the comments arrangements, but soon you’ll be able to hold forth on pretty much any page, so please do!
Historical notes: Smithdown, once known as Esmedune, was a manor mentioned in the Domesday Book, and was part of the royal forest of Toxteth, used for hunting.