Annual review 2017-2018
In 2017/18, National Museums Liverpool recorded its highest ever annual visitor figure with 3,305,671 visits to our eight museums and galleries.
Foreword by Louise Parnell, Interim Director
"This 9% increase is a reflection of exciting exhibitions, an action-packed events programme, and the stunning permanent collections that our teams care for every day. And of course, in February, we opened the blockbuster China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors exhibition, which has been a huge success.
These figures are testament to our continued mission to be the world’s leading example of an inclusive museum service.
In 2018, we bid farewell to David Fleming, our Director of 17 years. I’d like to thank David for his phenomenal contribution not only to our organisation but to the museum sector in the UK and internationally.
We thank all those who have supported us over the last year, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), benefactors, sponsors, members, staff, volunteers and visitors – your contributions are greatly appreciated.
We have many exciting plans to build on this year, including welcoming our new Director, Laura Pye, in August 2018 who I’m sure will continue to take National Museums Liverpool from strength to strength."
In 2017/18, National Museums Liverpool opened 20 special exhibitions attracting more than one million visits, which included China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at World Museum.
• The fascinating Terracotta Warriors exhibition opened in February 2018 showcasing 1,000 years of Chinese history, featuring one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries.
• Our partnership with the Arts Council Collection continued with four exhibitions at the Walker Art Gallery in 2017/18. Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender & Identity, Transparency, Kaleidoscope, and Naming the Money and Meticulous Observations by Turner Prize winner 2017 Lubaina Himid.
• Tales from the City was an example of our pioneering work to highlight LGBT+ communities through art, culture and history.
• The 10 year anniversary of the International Slavery Museum was marked with the exhibition Ink and Blood, which explored personal stories of previously enslaved people and responses to abolition.
Audience and impact
In 2017/18 we saw an increase in audience diversity. Visits from people with disabilities increased by 28%. Of our visitors, 15% were from overseas and 19% were under 16 years old.
The National Museums Liverpool website saw an increase of 44%. Engagement with our online audience continued, with 21,933 new subscribers to our YouTube channel, over four million views, 70,776 likes, 5,072 comments and 24,125 shares. We had 109,380 Twitter followers, 90,838 Facebook fans and 12,179 Instagram followers across National Museums Liverpool’s 22 accounts. We continued to attract positive media coverage, with 3,192 mentions in 2017/18 with a total value of £8.1 million.
Our House of Memories dementia programme celebrated its 5th birthday in September 2017, with the launch of a new wellbeing programme for older people and their carers, a new website and online shop. House of Memories is now being launched in the US, while the team explores other international opportunities.
The collections of National Museums Liverpool are vast and varied. In April 2017, we opened the new Ancient Egypt Gallery at World Museum showcasing a stunning collection of Egyptian artefacts, including 9 mummies in a dedicated ‘Mummy Room’.
We made significant new acquisitions to our collections, including Am Not I a Man and a Brotherfrom 1800, a rare example from the early phase of the British Abolition Movement, funded by the Arts Fund and HLF Collecting Cultures.
The newly-restored altarpiece, Virgin and Child in Glory, by Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1673), was rehung at the Walker Art Gallery following major conservation and research, alongside his oil study for the work.
In 2017/18, we continued to improve access to our collections by adding them to our website. New online collections included the Sankofa project, Pride and Prejudice, Ancient Near East, Ancient Cyprus and over 130 plant specimens from Trinidad and Tobago.
We aim for every child within the Liverpool City Region to visit a National Museums Liverpool venue, and we welcome children from much further afield too.
The World of the Warriors schools programme for the Terracotta Warrior exhibition included interactive sessions, teacher resources, an exhibition trail and a teacher guide.
Working with partners Autism Together, we signed up to the Autism Charter, to support people living with autism by offering ‘quiet mornings’, ear defenders and sensory tents at our venues.
We hosted the national launch event with Schools OUT! for LGBT+ History Month, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of LGBT+ histories and visibility in schools.
Our work in higher and further education continued with sessions for students from Liverpool Hope University, Hugh Baird College and Edge Hill University, and we became a partner for a new online MA with the University of Leicester.
National Museums Liverpool continues to work hard to supplement core funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and in 2017/18 we raised 31% of our total income.
We saw significant increases in our income from membership and visitor donations, and we are grateful to all those who have contributed financially to our work throughout the year.
We’re innovative in our income generation objectives in that all our commercial operations are fully managed in-house. The teams are completely integrated into the wider organisational aims and all work undertaken in commercial operations is for the direct benefit of National Museums Liverpool.
In addition to delivering numerous events, we launched a fully-refurbished café, shop and events space at World Museum, and unveiled a new brand style for our shops and cafes.
We are continuing to develop a wide range of sources of income to enable us to deliver a core programme of free exhibitions, education events and family activities and to undertake new and exciting projects.
Cover image: General © Mr. Ziyu Qiu