National Museums Liverpool venues to reopen

National Museums Liverpool’s museums and galleries will reopen to the public on Tuesday 18 May following the government’s announcement that lockdown restrictions will be eased.

World Museum will host the much-anticipated AI: More than Human in its first UK showing outside of London. The blockbuster exhibition surveys the creative and scientific developments within artificial intelligence through extraordinary artworks and interactive and immersive playful experiences. Taking visitors on an extremely unique and unexpected journey, this exhibition will explore the complex relationship between humans and technology in the past, present and what we can expect in the future. Members will be able to book tickets from 10am today (Tuesday 11 May) and tickets will go on sale to the public from 10am on Wednesday 12 May.

In I, too, am a survivor, the debut in a series of interventions at World Cultures gallery, T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Sarah Howe will bring new life to a group of Chinese ceramics with exclusive poetry she has written through the eyes of the objects, and a stunning immersive experience will complement the works. A 2,000 year old earthenware horse will speak of its snapped off, spirited tail and a pair of incense burners in the form of guardian lions will speak of their view from the mantelpiece in imagined narratives of their life and journey before arriving at the museum. It will be the first time the poems are revealed to the public and visitors will be totally immersed in the accompanying audio-visual effects.

While more than 13,000 people have explored the John Moores Painting Prize since it launched online in March, visitors to the Walker Art Gallery will no doubt be excited to see in the flesh Kathryn Maple’s stunning large-scale work, The Common, which scooped the £25,000 first prize. Commended by the judges for the way it conveys the ‘deeply social nature of humans’ it is a painting which beautifully resonates with anyone who has dearly missed social interactions this past year.

Kathryn’s work is one of 67 pieces in an exhibition, which cover a wide range of styles, themes and techniques, demonstrating once again the versatility of paint. The jurors chose Kathryn as their winner, but visitors to the exhibition have been encouraged to vote for theirs through the Visitors’ Choice Prize, sponsored by Rathbones.  In celebration of reopening, voting for the Prize has been extended to 13 June so that people get an additional four weeks to choose their favourite painting after seeing the exhibition in person.

Visitors will also be able to see the first ever Emerging Artist Prize-winning Untitled (Loafer) by Kiki Xuebing Wang. The oil painting portrays an object of desire, a shoe, at such a close range that the appearance is distorted and the object, and its worth, become unclear.

The Walker Art Gallery will celebrate 50 years of craft collecting with a new exhibition which celebrates the creative flair of makers with links to the North West, including renowned potter Julia Carter Preston, pioneering sculptor Emma Rodgers and Jacob Chan; a finalist on Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throwdown. Past Present Future: Celebrating Craft draws on the gallery’s outstanding collections along with loans of late twentieth-century craft.

Visitors to the Gallery will also be able to visit a new spotlight display on the work and relationship of Charles Shannon (1863-1937) and Charles Ricketts (1866-1931). Four artworks - one painting, two delicate drawings and one lithograph - explore some of the people, ideas and themes that influenced their work. 

At Lady Lever Art Gallery, The Last Bohemian: Augustus John will showcase around 40 works by one of Britain's most iconic and controversial artists. The exhibition will include 18 loans from across the North West and National Museum Wales and will run until 30 August 2021. Visitors will also be delighted to see the return of some Pre-Raphaelite artworks which have been on loan to other galleries around the world.

Visitors to Museum of Liverpool will be able to view a portrait of 19th century boxer Jem Wharton by Liverpool artist William Daniels, part of the National Portrait Gallery’s COMING HOME project. Other highlights include the House of Suarez Vogue Ball dress and L8 Against Apartheid, a new display highlighting the history of the community’s role in the anti-apartheid movement, and the fight to free Nelson Mandela.

Visitors will also still have the opportunity to visit the Museum of Liverpool’s exhibition Blitzed: Liverpool Lives. Comprising around 60 photographs and personal accounts, the exhibition documents one of the darkest periods in the city’s history, as we mark its 80th anniversary this month.

International Slavery Museum (ISM) will reopen its doors with two new displays – both powerful and thought-provoking artworks. Contributions by Shane D’Allessandro, a striking painting of the Union Jack, is an ode to the Windrush generation capturing the Caribbean contribution to British Society. On display in the museum’s Legacy gallery, this painting has a personal story for Shane whose paternal grandparents were part of the Windrush generation and who supported Britain during and after World War Two.

Another addition to ISM’s walls is Lambeaux (scraps) by Giles Eli-Dit-Cosaque which is a fantasised diary reconstructed from disparate elements. A moving journal, filled with personal and historical photographs, it’s also a Creole diary – not in a geographical sense, but rather a state of mind, referring to the concept of Creolisation. The fragmented pages are a work of art constantly on the move, like the experience of memory.

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “While we have continued to inspire and excite during lockdown through virtual tours, our new podcast Re:PRESENT, and supporting Rainbow Bridge at the River of Light festival, we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back into our spaces.

“In addition to a new blockbuster exhibition AI: More than Human, we welcome back some old favourites, including some of our world-famous Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which are back on show in the Lady Lever Art Gallery after their international travels and look stunning.

“We’re also delighted to be reopening Big Art for Little Artists at the Walker Art Gallery for the first time in over 12 months, and we’ll have lots of family activities available to book onto after half term so there’ll be tonnes to enjoy as we continue to come out of lockdown.”

The Walker Art Gallery, World Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery and Sudley House will be open from Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm (closed Mondays except bank holidays).

At World Museum, the Planetarium is due to reopen in June and the Aquarium is expected to reopen in time for the summer holidays.

Visits to NML’s venues will remain free, but timed entry slots must be pre-booked ahead of visiting via www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

All NML’s venues have been awarded Good To Go status, designed by VisitEngland and recognised by the National Tourist Organisations of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This Industry Standard mark confirms that we have followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, have a Risk Assessment in place and a process to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.

Now more than ever, the public’s support can make a real difference to National Museums Liverpool. Please consider becoming a member or making a donation to help create memorable experiences for everyone. www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/join-and-support

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