'A personal tour of the NMGM'
We had a most interesting talk by Stephen Guy, Press Officer of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (who also happens to be Chairman of the West Derby Society). Mr Guy's talk was illustrated with very good slides on the NMGM's 8 venues: Liverpool Museum, the Maritime Museum, H.M. Customs & Excise Museum, the Museum of Liverpool Life, Walker Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Sudley House and the Conservation Centre.
We heard about Sudley, the home of George Holt - a Unitarian - housing paintings by Millais, Gainsborough and others. Emma Holt gave it to the City in 1944. We heard about the Walker Art Gallery, which exhibits 1,000 paintings and sculptures but also owns many works that there is no room to show. It is noted for its many fine medieval paintings - and also for the biennial John Moores Exhibition of contemporary art. Liverpool Museum is a treasure house, including a wonderful exhibition of watches and clocks, a Natural History centre and an Egyptian Gallery. The Museum of Liverpool Life reflects everyday life on Merseyside, and even includes a chip fryer.
The Merseyside Maritime Museum, in one of the converted Albert Dock warehouses, includes a huge collection of ship models - including one of the Titanic made at the same time as the real vessel - of which only about one-third can be shown at any one time. The Slave Trade Gallery and the Emigrants Gallery are of great interest to the many visitors from America whose forbears sailed from Liverpool. Within the Maritime Museum, there is also a Customs Gallery. We saw excellent slides of the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight, housing a collection built up by Viscount Leverhulme and donated to Merseyside. We also heard about the work of the unique Conservation Centre, which is a centre for sculpture conservation and the repair of all things old, and was opened in 1998.
For the future, Mr Guy told us that there is a plan to double the size of our museums in the next few years at a cost of £34 million. He told us that the Prince George Gallery in the Walker is to be restored for visiting exhibitions, and Liverpool Life is to have two new galleries this July.
A lot to see now - and even more soon!