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Annual review 2014 - 2015


We believe museums change lives. National Museums Liverpool’s mission is to be the world’s leading example of an inclusive museum service, and to do this we provide an excellent public offer, we campaign for social justice, and we use museums to create and nurture ideas for active citizenship.

Against a backdrop of financial constraints, we have continued to work hard to generate income to provide the means to achieve our values and mission.

This annual review is a reflection of what we have achieved in 2014/15 – and a reminder of how important museums are to the economy, to our partners and to our wide range of visitors from all over the world.


National Museums Liverpool is the only national museum service in England based outside London and as such, we have a unique role. We operate nationally and internationally, we are the largest cultural institution in North West England, and we are the main museum service for Liverpool and the city region.

We manage eight venues: International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Seized!, Sudley House, Walker Art Gallery and World Museum.


visitsOur museums attract visitors from around the globe and contribute to Liverpool’s growing reputation as a top tourism destination. With almost 2.7 million visitors in 2014/15, more than a million of them said that our museums and galleries was the reason they visited the city that day. Our audience is very diverse, in line with our aim to be the world’s leading example of an inclusive museum service, campaigning for social justice and providing places to create and nurture ideas for active citizenship.

Of the visitors to our venues in 2014/15, 98% said they would be likely to recommend a visit. Our museums and galleries have great appeal locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. In fact, 63% of visitors in 2014/15 were from outside the Liverpool City Region, but we are also committed to our loyal local and regional visitors, offering families and communities a museum service they can be proud of.

We are aiming to reach new and existing audiences online too and attracted more than two million visits to our website in 2014/15, an increase of 9% on the previous year. This reflects the fact that despite a slight decrease in visits to our venues, our investment in website redesign and in making more of our collections available online, is paying off.

In addition, we have invested in growing our social media presence and engagement, and had 104,334 followers across our Twitter and Facebook accounts as of April 2015.


exhibitionsWith 25 special exhibitions, there was something for everyone in 2014/15. Art lovers enjoyed exhibitions about Rossetti at Lady Lever Art Gallery, and at the Walker Art Gallery a collection of photographs by Tony Ray-Jones, as well as the 2014 John Moores Painting Prize. Families were fascinated by Sssnakes Alive! at World Museum, which far exceeded its visitor target and attracted over 200,000 visitors.

For those with an interest in history, there was the moving exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum, telling the story of the city’s most loved ship and the passengers and crew who sailed aboard her on the tragic last voyage. Also at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, On their own: Britain’s child migrants – a collaboration between the Australian National Maritime Museum and National Museums Liverpool – told the emotional stories of the children through detailed case studies. In addition, First World War: reflections on Liverpool’s home front at the Museum of Liverpool was timed to open in conjunction with the First World War centenary.

The International Slavery Museum hosted Liberty bound, an exhibition in partnership with the St Helena government, the first to look at the recently discovered graveyards of 'liberated' Africans on the island.

In addition to these, we looked to further enhance our online offer for exhibitions by producing videos, blogs and interactive resources to engage audiences online, such as a resource of people on board the Lusitania for our exhibition, Lusitania: life, loss legacy.


collectionWe’re working hard to show as much of our collection online as possible. New additions to our website in 2014/15 included collections of ivories, ceramics and botanical plant models, as well as highlights of the Walker Art Gallery paintings collection. We have four million objects in our collection and 552,307 of them have been digitised.

This was our busiest year to date for loans, with our world-class collections in demand for display in exhibitions across the globe. In 2014/15, 3,764 objects from across our collection areas were loaned to museums and galleries both within the UK (145 venues) and internationally (22 venues). There was a major loan of 140 pieces of Wedgwood Jasperware and other items from National Museums Liverpool’s collections from the Lady Lever Art Gallery to the All Russian Museum of Decorative Art in Moscow. This saw the world’s finest collection of this material being displayed alongside Wedgwood’s magnificent Frog Service of Catherine the Great during the UK-Russia Year of Cultural Cooperation 2015.

Curatorial research and support for the exhibitions programme continued and notable exhibitions in the year, generated from our own collections, included Turner: travels, light and landscape from our superb collection of paintings, watercolours and prints by JMW Turner at the Lady Lever Art Gallery; Sail Away: Liverpool shipping posters and Lusitania: life, loss legacy in commemoration of the catastrophic sinking of RMS Lusitania during the First World War, at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. At Sudley House the programme of costume displays brought animation to the historic house with this year’s exhibition Drip Dry: synthetic fibres in fashionfeaturing outfits from National Museums Liverpool’s collections dating from the 1920s to the present day.


incomeGenerating income and finding new ways to attract donations, funding and sponsorship to continue to deliver an excellent public service and provide fascinating exhibitions has become an even greater priority.

National Museums Liverpool was very successful in attracting external funding totalling in excess of £700,000 in 2014/15 for collections-related research and collections development and display from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, DCMS Wolfson, NERC and other sources. This allows us to maintain Independent Research Organisation status. Collections development funding will enable us to expand our collecting activity, acquisitions and research in LGBT material, and slavery collections.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery South End Development project was awarded £1.262m from HLF (Stage 2) in September 2014. This will see the redevelopment of the South End galleries and allow research and redisplay of Lord Leverhulme’s outstanding collections of 18th century English furniture and female portraiture; Chinese ceramics, Napoleon collections, Victorian and early 20th century sculpture and the world’s best collection of Wedgwood Jasperware. We aim to reopen the south end galleries to the public in spring 2016.

In 2014/15, 32% of National Museums Liverpool’s income was self-generated, this includes £194,000 from donation boxes. We agreed to start selling back electricity to the National Grid, which will generate £16,000 annually. Project income of £191,000 was recognised in the year from the Department of Health towards the House of Memories programme.

Our Trading division made a £417,000 operating profit, significantly surpassing its profit targets for the year and merchandising income increased to £3.7m in 2014/15 (from £3.5m in 2013/14).


educationWe aim for every child within the Liverpool City Region to have visited at least one of our museums, and we welcome children from further afield too. At the International Slavery Museum in particular there was a significant increase in school visits from outside the UK. Through our creative cultural programme we broaden access to the museums by engaging schoolchildren and young people, adult learners, older people, families and community groups. In 2014/15, 183,289 children came into our venues on school visits.

The Meet me at the museum initiative at the Museum of Liverpool and World Museum engaged isolated older people in reminiscence activity using handling objects, film and music. Our ongoing partnership with Homotopia included, at the Museum of Liverpool, a programme of events themed around April Ashley - portrait of a lady, and a wreath laying for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Marking the 15th Slavery Remembrance Day Commemorations, BAFTA award-winning Director, Amma Asante, director of the film Belle, delivered the inaugural Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Memorial Lecture. As part of Black History Month, a series of thought-provoking talks took place at the International Slavery Museum including Julia Immonen from the Row for Freedom Campaign to raise awareness of child trafficking.

The Seized! Education team collaborated with Everton in the Community as part of their ‘Safe Hands’ Project. The programme supports offenders through rehabilitation and the transition from imprisonment to freedom.The Seized! education team also organised Public Service Days attended by more than 300 pupils from nine colleagues across England and Wales to find out about careers in public service.

World Museum hosted a sleepover of 500 Brownies and 89 leaders for an evening of activities, including Meet the Mummy and Planetarium shows.

A programme of events to support the John Moores Painting Prize 2014 including artist talks was delivered at the Walker Art Gallery. As part of LightNight, the Walker Art Gallery hosted the Dot Art Schools exhibition, while the Museum of Liverpool welcomed Biennial artist Ali Harwood who ran public art workshops throughout the evening.

Social impact

social-impactMuseums change lives; they enhance wellbeing, confidence and social connectedness. 

Our work with communities in 2014/15 included growth of the multiple award-winning House of Memories dementia programme, which has trained carers from Liverpool and across the UK and expanded partnerships across health, housing and family care.

A study in 2013 (England’s North West Research Service)  showed that National Museums Liverpool added £97.2m to the economy in the Liverpool City Region and hence supports over 1,600 jobs both directly and indirectly in the region.

We play a distinct and significant role as the leading culture and heritage organisation based in the North West region and we have a unique position in the English museum sector being the only national museum based wholly outside London and serving international, national, regional and local audiences. National Museums Liverpool is a jewel in the regions of the UK and a national cultural asset within the evolving ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda.

Internationally, we are recognised for our socially inclusive mission and our ability to connect museums with non-traditional settings and public service providers. We have earned our reputation for building diverse audiences; delivering successful large scale capital projects and for our groundbreaking work in dementia care and human rights. In 2014/15 we worked with more than 20 countries including Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Japan and Taiwan.

National Museums Liverpool is an exemplar of a shared service, operating across local authority boundaries and also government departments (National Museums Liverpool also operates the Border Force National Museum funded by the Home Office) to deliver services to more than 2.5m users, the majority of whom (62%) travel from outside the city region to visit our internationally important museums and collections. Our museums are the busiest in England, outside of London.

In 2014/15, National Museums Liverpool picked up eight awards, trained 7,000 carers as part of our House of Memories programme and received 1,887 media mentions throughout the year, worth £7.3m in estimated advertising value (EAV).

In addition, the My House of Memories app was downloaded 3,000 times, 18,000 sprouts were prepared for our 2014 Christmas parties, 13,442 dinosaurs sold in our shops and 125,554 pots of tea sold in our cafes.

Our venues are welcoming, engaging, educational and open to all. Visiting with the family, as part of a trip to the city, enjoying time to reflect on an exhibition or meeting friends, National Museums Liverpool has something for everyone, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

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