The Blitz gave the museum’s curators opportunities to develop the collections in ways they could not have imagined before the war. Elaine Tankard, Keeper of Antiquities and sometime Director of Liverpool (now World) Museum campaigned tirelessly for the rebuilding of the museum and its collections.
She took advantage of the sudden change in collecting interests by other regional museums. Many museums had decided to sell or donate the collections they thought of as ‘foreign’ to Liverpool. When Tankard was offered a number of museum collections from Tibet she seized on the opportunity to make Liverpool a centre for Tibet-related collections.
She also worked closely with the families of British colonial officers who had served in Tibet, bringing their collections to Liverpool. She formed a strong relationship with Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Marshman Bailey and his wife Irma Bailey. For more than 30 years the Baileys donated and sold objects from Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal to Liverpool. This crystal Buddha finally sold to the museum in 1964 had previously formed the centrepiece to Elaine Tankard’s 1953 exhibition “Tibet” when the Bailey’s lent it to the exhibition.
The “Tibet” exhibition was held in the Walker Art Gallery as Liverpool Museum was still rebuilding more than 20 years after the Blitz.