Love Liverpool

In Museums on November 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Long time, no blog.

Fresh back from a trip to Liverpool, I’m restored, relaxed and charged up with ideas from visiting the amazing range of museums and heritage venues they have there. I know we’re spoiled with museums in London, but the scousers must have a higher heritage-venue-per-capita ratio? I’m sure there’s a clever way to calculate the cultural capital of a city. Anyone?

I made a B-line for Tate Liverpool, who have an excellent drawing exhibition on at the moment. It was great to be reunited with the Henry Moore drawings from the underground during the Second World War (they’ve been on show various exhibitions in the last few years at Tate and other places and they never cease to amaze and charm me.) Also on the Albert Dock is the Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum (which is actually just one floor of the MMM).

The World Museum Liverpool is always worth a visit as well, but what really blew me away this time was the Walker Art Gallery – I often have a bee in my bonnet about how art interpretation is rarely as good as object-focused display interpretation, but the Walker has completely removed this bee from me. They have come up with some simple, yet ingenious, ways of getting people to look more closely at art and to appreciate and understand at the same time. Top of the class.

Another new one for me was the Lady Lever Gallery, in Bebington – just take a quick train from the centre of town, under the Mersey. It’s set in the charming, purpose-built model village of Port Sunlight (constructed by Lever Bros to house their workforce). At the heart of this sleepy settlement lies an incongruous, yet well-appointed, purpose-built gallery, housing Lord Lever’s art collection. In shape and style it reflects Dulwich Picture Gallery, but in display it resembles, hmmm, the 1980s? It’s a peculiar one, and one to which I’ll certainly return.

My absolute favourite place this time around thought was FACT – the Foundation of Art and Creative Technology. It’s an art centre, it’s a display space, it’s a cinema, it’s a gig venue, it’s got a bar. And it’s all wrapped up in a great building, in the heart of the city. The vibe inside is relaxed and open, yet hugely creative and one which seems to be responding to the cultural heartbeat of the city. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris if you’ve ever visited that.

So, from ancient Egypt and the Beatles to contemporary art and riches based on soap powder, Liverpool seems to have it all.


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