Merseyside Maritime Museum

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Liverpool, England

Merseyside Maritime Museum Liverpool Reviews

sarahelaine sarahela…
648 reviews
Merseyside Maritime Museum and National Museum of Slavery Jun 04, 2011
The Liverpool Maritime Museum and the National Museum of Slavery share a building, a front door, and a staircase, so I am reviewing them as if they are one museum.  They are both in a building on Albert Dock, a renovated area of Liverpool not far from the city centre and on the river Mersey.  The Liverpool Maritime Museum celebrates the influence of the sea and its industries on Liverpool’s development, looking at ships, shipping, the development of Customs and Excise, and things like that.  The National Slavery museum explores the dark side of the maritime trade – Liverpool’s central role in the horrors of the Transatlantic slave trade – and the fight against slavery which is still going on today. 

Last time I went to the National Maritime Museum was in 1989, which is obviously a very long time ago, but I remember it being better then.  I don’t know if it is because I was nine, all that time ago, or if it really has got less interesting.  But I remember it having lots of displays on what life was like for sailors, including some that upset my dad because they showed equipment he had used in the 1960s and he didn’t like the idea of them being in a museum already, and I remember there being a live actor who jumped out and scared me, and then told me about food at sea in the old days.  I kind of hope it was his day off and he’s still there, because the museum now is much more generic than I remember it being there.  There is a display on emigrant ships which makes it all look quite spacious, if dark, in contrast to some of the accounts I’ve read elsewhere, but was still quite interesting.  The  display on customs and excise was very interesting and did have lots of games for if you had children with you, and I enjoyed that part.  There were also displays about the Titanic and some other cruise ships.   I can learn about the Titanic almost anywhere, and although there was a small display on ship building it didn’t have much about life on normal ships or about the cargo trade.  Half of a floor was taken up by pictures of Apartheid era South Africa, which were interesting, but they weren’t about the sea, and they weren’t even really about slavery.  So although the museum is interesting, it doesn’t really have anything unique about it.  I do hope it wasn’t spoiled by rose tinted memories, but I don’t think I would rush back.

The National Museum of Slavery was upstairs, and sponsored the exhibition of photos about apartheid and another one about the lives of women (not in slavery, but about their ordinary challenges as women, mothers and people playing sports)  in Africa today.  It has some interesting information about what life was like before slavery, and for slaves.  It also has some information about modern slavery.  I think it is an interesting museum, although I also think that it would have been better to have gone into a little more depth about the reasons for the trade and who profited.  It felt very small and very like a surface gloss over the topics it was raising.  Perhaps, interesting as the photos are, they would be better using the space from the apartheid display and the modern African women display to go into a little more detail about modern slavery (which was pretty much just “this is still going on” and had little extra information) and a little more detail about why slavery happened, the slave revolts (again, just mentioned in passing) and other issues like that.  I might just have gone on the wrong day.

 

Wheelchair access is fine. 

 

Entrance to the museum is free, and on that basis, I think it is worth visiting (I donated some money).  It is an interesting museum for an hour or so, and I quite liked it.  But it isn’t my favourite museum about the sea and I think that it would be nice if they were a little less focused on the Titanic, and focused a bit more on things you can’t learn elsewhere.  And if they could get the jumpy-out guy back that would be great. 
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Vipin Vipin
691 reviews
History Sep 01, 2011
The Merseyside Maritime Museum is very close to Tate Liverpool and well worth looking into. As the city was historically known for its shipping trade activities, it’s only right that this museum has some great exhibits on show. Rather strangely though, all of the famous things that were there and interested me the most all had a sour note to them - information on the Lusitania and Titanic can be found here. The model of the Titanic was particularly impressive. There were also some items that related to the second world war too. Although there were other things about how shipping had affected the city, and how it shaped the economy and society of England, I must admit that I had museum fatigue by then to go through it properly. It is rather comprehensive though and shows how the shipping activities have changed over the past couple of centuries. I thought this museum was worth visiting and would go there again.
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