World Museum


Story: Charlotte Bell
Photography: Charlotte Bell
Monday, September 2, 2019

World Museum, Liverpool, is known for their wide displays of sciences and human cultures and as expected their building aptly reflects this. The building is certainly a sight to behold, attached next to the library and the beautiful architecture reflects its long history. It opened on 8 March 1853 in the Ropeworks district of Liverpool, which then moved onto William Brown Street in 1860, where it is currently located. The move to William Brown Street reflects its rise to greater things, as the museum collection expanded to displays of life sciences, earth sciences and human cultures. During the second world war, on 3 May 1941, the museum suffered massive damages when it was burned down after a five-hundred-pound high explosive bomb fell on the library. Due to its extreme damages, it did not re-open until fifteen-years later.

The World Museum offers to its visitors the World Culture collection, which displays artefacts and displays from Asia, Oceania, the America’s and Africa. Upon entering the collection, we are met with a vast canvas of a scene from Asia depicting monks in various poses, inviting us in to explore this vast culture.

Canvas boards emphasising the special relationship between Liverpool and China can be seen on the wall, as we walk past a video of curatorial staff discussing the decisions behind the displays. The silence of the place contributes towards the spiritual nature of the monks, earlier seen in the entrance. Walking around the corner, we are met with ceramics all lined in a huge glass display with booklets seated at the bottom which we can peruse through the objects’ descriptions. This seems to allow the objects to be seen more in a natural light, where numbers within the display are not needed and do not interfere with the pleasure of viewing them. Next to this is a towering wall glass display of a sitting room with chairs, side tables and desk cabinets all adorned with gold. The main attraction, situated in the middle of the display, is the gold kneehole writing desk which is made from rosewood. Sitting on top of the writing desk are numerous lacquer boxes; tea caddy’s, game boxes and tea canisters which are inlaid with mother of pearl. The decadent materials used are brilliantly executed within the display and gives the illusion of a family sitting down after dinner.

Walking further on, we are met with the Japanese section as the uniform of two samurai’s come into view, almost as if they were standing in front of us. The clothes seen are gleaming with threads and intricately woven sleeves, gold and black certainly making an impression. In between the two samurai’s, there is a stabbing spear hanging down from the ceiling by a thin string. Further on, there are rows of sword mounts, adorned with black and gold flowers and water features. The booklets below, indicate their provenance, date and description. Turn around, and we will see a solid square of glass holding inside several miniature sculptures depicting ghosts, ghouls and demons. Their fanged smiles, and curled toes tells of a story and the plaque beneath tells the magic and menace in the Netsuke collection of Jonas Goro Gadelius. We are told of the bloodcurdling ghost stories and the vengeful ghosts, demons (oni), and demon catchers. Following on from the small demon creatures, we are met with two golden lions standing on red blocks adorned with flowers. Contained in small glass blocks on either side of the entrance to the Buddhism collection, they act as guardians almost as if they were protecting something sacred inside. Towards the left as we enter, we are met with a recreation of a Gon Khang chapel, a feature of Tibetan monasteries. Window holes covered by a latticed pattern, reveal sinister looking faces featuring demonic figures looing out of the darkness to ward off evil. The wide, bright yellow and black eyes hypnotise the viewer with their gaping fangs, doing a good job of warding off unwanted visitors. In the corner of the small collection is a wide glass display of cast bronze figure of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The many arms (twenty-two in total) spread out wide, almost as if pointing to the other statues of Wisdom and Universal Grace and Compassion on either side riding a lion and elephant respectively. The quiet environment of this collection, and the solemn looking artefacts produces a solemn visit taking in the culture of Asia.

The World Cultures collection is only one of many available to the visitor and these collections are spread across five floors. These are accessible both by stairs or by lift giving access to those with wheel-chair needs and those with children. Floor one boasts an aquarium where you can see live fish from Australia to Anglesey and the Treasure House Theatre where visitors are able to see live shows, films and demonstrations. Floor two includes a bug house where spiders and insects are available to view and the Clore Natural History Centre where you can hold and examine objects including plants, animals and rocks. Floor three demonstrates the wonder of Ancient Egypt where the daily lives of the Ancient Egyptians are seen as well as the popular mummy room which boasts several mummies behind glass displays and the Weston Discovery Centre where you can see a small display of Ancient Greek pottery and handle objects from around the world. Floor four contains the Dinosaurs collection where there is a replica of skeletons of dinosaurs, fossilised reptile footprints and Ice Age mammal bones; the Natural World, and the Natural History Centre. Floor five displays the Space collection where you are able to see rockets, telescopes, moon rock and models of the solar system; the Time collection where examples of rock and craftmanship from the 1500’s to the 1960’s, and the Planetarium where visitors journey through space and time as the universe is revealed (tickets are available to purchase from the Information Desk on the Ground Floor).

The World Museum is free to visit, although donations are welcomed. The museum is open 10am-5pm every day, apart from the Christmas period (24, 25, 26, 31 December, and 1 January). If travelling to the World Museum, there is Pay and Display located right outside the museum, as well as Blue Badge parking spaces. If travelling by train, the World Museum is a short walk from Liverpool Lime Street, the mainline train station. Leave the concourse via the exit closest to the ticket office. You come out on Lord Nelson Street, facing the side of the Empire Theatre. Turn left out onto Lime Street. Go right along Lime Street, past the Empire Theatre. Cross Lime Street at the pedestrian crossing near the theatre and walk down William Brown Street. The museum is along on the right.

A visit to World Museum will enrich your day, filled with various specialisms and something to always entertain the children with. The interactive displays, the opportunity to handle objects from the past as well as the various picnic areas dotted around the museum and the obligatory gift shop will keep the children entertained. For the museum goer, or student and professional there are numerous artefacts as well as events the museum holds which encourages discourse between the visitor and curators of the different departments.

World Museum,
William Brown Street
Liverpool
L3 8EN

0151 478 4393

www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml

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