The new £72 million Museum of Liverpool opened its doors to the public today, celebrating the city’s rich cultural heritage in a stunning setting on the Mersey waterfront.
The largest newly-built national museum in the UK for more than a century was officially opened by six-year-old Finn O’Hare, who specifically wrote and asked if he could have the ribbon-cutting honour.
Crowds gathered at the much-anticipated building, which
is set to attract more than 750,000 visitors per year, to
take a journey through Liverpool’s fascinating past.
With artefacts on display ranging from an intriguing
model showing Sir Edwin Lutyen’s original design for
the Catholic Cathedral, right the way through to Scouse
Barbie dolls, the attraction is set to provide yet another
boost to the city's burgeoning tourism sector.
The vibrant interior, consisting of three floors, makes the
museum a lively place to view Liverpool’s treasured
culture in the form of 6,000 objects.
A great mixture of items, including objects documenting
the city’s relationship with Shanghai, a magnificent
painting of Liverpool by Ben Johnson, and a suit worn
by local legend Ken Dodd, all help show the city’s
incredibly diverse heritage.
Ken Dodd turned up in the flesh later on opening day, as
did John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono.
Speaking to JMU Journalism at the opening, Museum
Director Janet Dugdale said: “So far it feels a great
success. It feels really exciting and quite emotional
as well, actually.”
Visitor John Gaul, from Runcorn, said: “It is better than I
expected it to be. A lot of museums are claustrophobic
but this is open and it’s bright. My favourite has been the
Liver Bird because it is the actual size of the real thing.”
Another visitor, Gillian Farrie said: “What struck me is
how much history there is relating to ordinary people.
The original model for the Catholic [Metropolitan]
Cathedral is mighty impressive. There is so much
attention to detail on everything that I may need to come
back and have another look.”
Possibly one of the most interesting facts brought to life by the museum is that Liverpudlian Lita Roza was the first British woman to top the charts when she asked the now very well-known question: 'How Much is That Doggie in the Window?', all the way back in 1953. A dress worn by the singer is on prominent display.
One of the more unusual items on show is the skeleton of the last royal horse to win the Grand National. Ambush II won the world-famous race at Aintree back in 1900.
Sports fans will surely also appreciate an overcoat which belonged to Liverpool FC's legendary manager Bill Shankly. If you are a Blue then a champagne bottle passed around the dressing room and signed by Everton players after their title win in 1970 will no doubt bring a smile to your face.
Even if you aren’t usually interested in the stereotypical museum there will be something in this new addition to Liverpool’s culture which will interest you. It is a fabulous mix of entertainment, sports and history, shown from the people's perspective.
Opening day crowds meant a glimpse of the stage where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met was not possible for JMU Journalism this time, but a second viewing is definitely called for. However, some of the other exhibits are not open until 'Winter 2011', unfortunately.
The new museum, which replaces the 'Museum of Liverpool Life' following its closure in 2006, will be open daily from 10am to 5pm, and entrance is free.
By Helen Dodd, Arts & Entertainment Editor
More JMU Journalism stories
Museum of Liverpool photos
Finn O'Hare meets the press after opening the new £72m Museum of Liverpool on the city's waterfront
This controversial design for Liverpool's 'Fourth Grace' was scrapped in 2004