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I have visited a few times since the re-fit of the Egyptian galleries and have been disappointed.
The collection itself is impressive, but the interpretation is often abysmal. For such an important Egyptological collection (one of the best in the U.K) it does not display itself as such. The interpretation and reading materials for visitors are aimed primarily at primary school aged children, which in is admirable, but the flaw is there is little information that isn't at this level. As an adult I felt the museum had little to offer me and felt I should be visiting with a child in tow. I felt I didn't learn anything from my visits as the majority of material relating to the collections was aimed at such young children and didn't contain much beyond what I already knew. Granted I am an archaeology graduate so I am pickier than most about such things! I have been to many other museums which manage this balance of information better. For example another National Museums and Galleries Merseyside Museum, the International Slavery Museum, has detailed explanations for adults along side activities and guides for children.
That said the collections are good, the ethnographic galleries are especially stunning. The facilities are excellent, with a good cafe and a nice shop. There is a lift to every floor and accessible toilets, as well as baby changing facilities.
All in all this is a good little museum with some amazing collections, but I can't help feel it suffers from catering so much to young children at the expense of everyone else. It is a shame the World Museum does not see curious adults as a target market as I'm sure there are plenty of us! I feel this is a great shame as Liverpool is an amazing city and we deserve a museum that reflects this, especially given the rich history of Egytpological and Archaeological study in the city.
Being a scouser has its advantages because i have seen the city change, mainly for the better over the years. We Liverpudlians (although i am an Evertonian) have taken a lot of jibes from the rest of the country, but a day in Liverpool City Centre would change most peoples perspective of my beloved city.
Off i went for a 'my city tour' last Saturday, part of which was to visit the newly revamped, and hi tech Museum in the cultural William Brown Street. Being surrounded by beautiful architecture helps the ambience and the fact that is is totally free is even better.
I last visited the museum as a child and still remember the Egyptian display and the Planetarium with its myriad of stars and planets. The entrance was fashioned as a courtyard with the obligatory souvenier shop and a childrens toy shop. Look up and you see the full height of this impressive building. Split onto a number of floors and fully accessible for people with disabilities, i was looking forward to my afternoon of culture.
I was impressed with the Aquarium. I recently visited one in Ilfracombe which i paid to visit and it was the size of a large shed! This visit was free and the Aquarium contained some of the most beautiful, intensley bright coloured fish i had ever seen. I almost needed sun glasses to look at them.
On to the insects, butterflies etc. Fascinating! From working ants to stick insects, a working bee hive, encased in glass and drawer after drawer of butterflies, insects and more butterflies and insects.
We headed to a room containing lots of animal skulls and fossils which was great for the family as it was fully interactive. Guess the animal from its skull, look at fossils and small insects under microscopes and interact on the computers that were scattered about. We even took part in a scientific study about smells which gave us 15 minutes to rest our weary feet.
The Liverpool music scene was featured in a large display of all artists who started their musical careers in the city. Listen, look and take in all that has made this city famous, including the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers and the list goes on and on, taking you right up to the current music scenes.
Onwards and upwards to find World Culture and a look at what the continents of the world have to offer. I especially loved the Japanese Samurai swords and clothing. Another interactive room on this floor, which we didn't visit due to time restrictions, seemed to be filled with families and looked very industrious.
I was a little dissappointed with the Roman section which seemed a little empty but the Egyptian artifacts were eye opening and a mummy or two in their full glory were fascinating.
Views to the city from the cafetaria at the top of the building were spectacular. On to the Space section which was small and not so interactive as other floors which was slightly dissappointing. By this time though i was in need of another sit down so appreciated a good cuppa and a cake.
We never got to visit the Planetarium because we were pushed for time, but i understand the tickets are available at the entrance, again free of charge! It was wonderful for children because it is very interactive and opens up a child's mind. Make a small donation on your way out in the glass box at the entrance, because it is well worth it and is a good, full afternoon in one of the most pleasant Museums i have been to. Well done Liverpool.
Liverpool Museum has gone through a bit of a recent renaissance. It was an integral part of my youth, like the occasional trip on the ferry across the Mersey. Something slightly grotty but 'Liverpoolish' about it. I could include graffiti and head-butting in the same sentence but Liverpudlians start moaning and going on about its lack of accuracy on the grounds that there were once about 5 kids who didn't graffiti and headbutt.
To be fair, Liverpools changed a lot in the last 30 years but can't quite shake of its grimy port image. The Liverpool museum and the adjacent art gallery, along with St Georges Hall across the gardens were the few buildings in Liverpool that the Luftwaffe and development conspired to miss and were an oasis of architectural splendour in the midst of 60's grot.
They still shine out in the centre of Liverpool and a lot of work has been done recently to make the inside of the museum as impressive as the outside. Part of this has been to rename it World Museum Liverpool, as if rearranging the words and inserting 'World' adds to its reinvention. Can't fool me that easily, but the effort was there.
Inside the Museum now boasts a new lobby with slate floors and a dangling pterodactyl or some such fossil. Glass walls and see-through lifts give it a modern and airy feel and the effort has been worth it. It rivals bigger cousins in capitals around the world. Nearly.
You see, there isn't much there really. That's its problem. To emphasis it, I can summarise in a couple of lines
Space and Time on the top floor - mostly clocks, a rocket and CD-ROM based info screens. Oh and the planetarium - more in a mo.
Dinosaurs and the animal world - 2 skeletons (casts) and many stone relics. Loads of stuffed animals. For hilarity, see the stuffed lion about to pounce on a stuffed zebra in its life size display. On the day I went there was a cheesy quaver by the lions foot.
Ancient world including some good mummies amidst some dull roman statues with either dangly bits or fig leaf. Some Saxon jewellery and greek vases for highlights.
Bug World below had good, and genuinely good insect displays and models. Very interactive. Dozens of trays of every imaginable bug which you can pull out and explore - the 4 year old loved it. Across the way there were loads of examples of animal and mineral skeletons and shells and God knows what else which you could explore with microscopes attached to video cameras. Actually, the Jac (above mentioned 4 yr old) was mostly interested in looking at the minute scratch on his hand magnified 100 times and wouldn't stop going on about his impending death.
Aquarium. When will they realise that we couldn't give a toss about the rock pools of Anglesey. Aquariums are about sharks - not bleedin' starfish in murky water with a rusty can for the 'authentic' look. Ok, there were the obligatory 'Nemo' and 'Dory' tanks as well.
There is a good shop on the ground floor which caters for kids and adults. Usual stuff - 'Gemstones', dino models, papyrus pictures and World Museum pencil sharpeners. For a good price though I thought - not extortionate.
There are cafes on the ground and top floors, again not to badly priced - adult meals for a fiver and kids lunchboxes at £1.99. Coffee a quid (ish). I can cope with that.
Toilets are everywhere. Well not everywhere, or visitors would be saying 'Oh God not another bog exhibit' and its reputation would plummet.
Disabled visitors are also well catered for in terms of ramps and lifts.
Car parking is available outside the Museum but limited in number, but the train station (Lime Street) is very handy and just across the Gardens behind St Georges hall.
Bugger all. Zip. Nada. Free. Entertains the kids for nothing. We all like a bit of that.
Yep. It's free. It's a bit boring but not dreadful. We got an hour and a half out of it at the weekend for little outlay. The café's nice and so are the staff so give it a go and I don't think you'll be hugely disappointed.
All other info can be found on the rather good website at http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/
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Browse through the extensive collections covering archaeology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences.