Myths and more: Summer at National Museums Liverpool

From Greek and Roman myths, to and photography to fairies, National Museums Liverpool (NML) has such an action-packed summer of exhibitions, events, workshops and activities for all ages – we’ve had to open an extra day each week!

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Explore ancient Greek and Roman myths in special exhibition Return of the Gods, or go on a Behind the Scenes Aquarium Tour at World Museum; take a joyous journey to the heart of Liverpool through Tom Wood’s photography at Walker Art Gallery or enjoy ethereal illustrations of Flower Fairies at Lady Lever Art Gallery.

Don’t forget your teddy bear for a picnic at Sudley House, get up close with archaeology at Museum of Liverpool (recently shortlisted for a Kids in Museums Family Friendly award), and meet detector dogs at the Maritime Museum.

Summer isn’t just about the kids – NML has plenty of activities for adult visitors to enjoy too, including Beyond the Label talks with curators who reveal more about the incredible collections they take care of, and creative workshops and tours inspired by new exhibitions.

From Monday 24 July to Monday 28 August, National Museums Liverpool venues will also be open on Mondays each week throughout the summer holidays to give visitors even more chance to explore new exhibitions, get involved in art workshops, get creative in craft sessions, hear from the experts in talks and go behind the scenes in tours.

A day out isn’t complete without a souvenir and in NML’s gift shops you can find everything from art-themed gifts, to pocket money purchases inspired by the collections.

If you’re planning on visiting lots over the summer and beyond, NML offers a range of membership options for individuals and families which include unlimited access to paid exhibitions across all seven venues, Planetarium shows at World Museum and the Old Dock tours. Memberships also include access to special events, previews and talks and 15% in museum and gallery cafés, gift shops and NML’s online shop.

Here are just a few of the highlights to get in your calendar for a summer day out…


Return of the Gods 
World Museum, Until 25 Feb 2024
Adults £8 (concessions available), children under 17 free 

Prepare for the high drama of the ancient world as we meet the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus. Their lives were packed with great loves, greater feuds and the powers to influence, save or condemn human lives forever. This family-friendly exhibition dives into ancient Greek and Roman mythology to expose the original ancient characters of the heroes and heroines of our time. This boldly designed exhibition allows you to step inside the stories, as two-metre-high statues tower above you. Featuring a stunning collection of over 100 sculptures and objects, displayed together for the first time, experience the luxury of a Roman villa, before journeying into the underworld to meet Hades. 
Relaxed views are an opportunity to visit our exhibition spaces when they are a little less busy, information can be found on the exhibition booking page. Summer dates for relaxed views include:
Tue 18 July 10am – 12pm
Wed 16 August 2-4pm

Photie Man: 50 years of Tom Wood 
Walker Art Gallery, Until 7 January 2024 
Adults £9 (concessions available) 

A new major photographic exhibition from Tom Wood at Walker Art Gallery, showcasing 50 years of the artist’s work. Photie Man celebrates the acclaimed Irish-born artist Tom Wood with a comprehensive survey of work spanning 50 years since the start of his career. The exhibition brings together photography from the 1970’s to the present day, many of which are being displayed for the first time in Liverpool – where a large number of Wood’s iconic photographs were taken. 

Relaxed views are an opportunity to visit our exhibition spaces when they are a little less busy, information can be found on the exhibition booking page. Summer dates for relaxed views include:
Mon 24 July - 2pm
Wed 24 August - 10am

Flower Fairies 
Lady Lever Art Gallery, Until 5 November 2023 
Tickets are free to book with a donation suggested.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery explores 100 years of Cicely Mary Barker’s ethereal illustrations in a new exhibition, Flower Fairies. In association with Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House UK), the exhibition looks at the delicate work created by Barker. Flower Fairies, features around 45 exquisite and botanically accurate, original illustrations, including Barker’s best-loved flower fairy creations and early sketches, alongside digital projections, items from National Museums Liverpool’s botany collection and costumes inspired by the fairies, designed by award-winning costume designer Vin Burnham. 

Relaxed views are an opportunity to visit our exhibition spaces when they are a little less busy, information can be found on the exhibition booking page. Summer dates for relaxed views include:
Wed 26 July 10am
Tue 15 August 10am

Dancing in Time: The Ties that Bind Us
International Slavery Museum (installation is outside, on Canning Dock quayside)
Until 17 September 2023

Providing a platform for multiple voices in developing the overall vision of National Museums Liverpool’s Waterfront Transformation Project, this installation feeds into plans for the new International Slavery Museum, exploring storytelling, interpretation, and the wider historic waterfront. This intervention, and the placement of the sculpture on the Canning Dock quayside, echoes Vandy’s recent studio relocation to Chatham Historic Dock Yard, working with the Ropery, a 19th century building which still makes rope in the traditional way. The rope holds both symbolic and historic importance as it was used in ancient construction, the building of Colonisation and Empire through shipping, as well as its more sinister association with slavery and captivity. Vandy uses the materiality of the rope to create abstract female figures out of twists and turns, creating a new sculpture for the International Slavery Museum.


Return of the Gods Exhibition Tour: Mythology and Daily Life
World Museum, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11am and 2.30pm
Adults £13 (includes £8 exhibition ticket. Children £5)
Prepare for the high drama of the ancient world as we meet the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus. Their lives were packed with great loves, greater feuds and the powers to influence, save or condemn human lives for ever. This family-friendly exhibition and tour dives into ancient Greek and Roman mythology to expose the original ancient characters of the heroes and heroines of our time, and what they meant to people of the time.

Return of the Gods Exhibition Tour: Collections, from Myth to Museum
World Museum Tuesdays, 11am
Adults £13 (includes £8 exhibition ticket. Children £5)

Return of the Gods exhibition features incredible sculptures, comparable in importance and quality to the Charles Townley collection at the British Museum, and to Roman sculptures at the Vatican, Italy and other European museums. But where did they come from?

Originally collected by the 18th century antiquarian Henry Blundell - join one of our guided tours and learn about the fascinating journeys that these incredible sculptures and objects have taken to form part of an internationally significant collection of ancient art. From excavation to restoration and the way objects are displayed, this is our tour from the myths to the museum.

Beyond the label: auctions and x-rays, animal mummies in Liverpool
World Museum, Saturday 22nd July, 2-3pm, Ticket £7
World Museum has one of the UK's largest collections of mummified animals. Join Egyptologist Ashely Cooke and find out how we've been discovering more about these animals, why the ancient Egyptians mummified them, and how 19.5 tons of mummified cats were shipped to Liverpool in 1890 to be crushed up for use as fertiliser. 

Beyond the label: a weaving miracle - the Ramesses Girdle
World Museum, Saturday 19th August 2-3pm, Ticket £7
A scarf, a belt, a girdle; this rare piece of royal clothing in the collections of National Museums Liverpool has been called different things since it was first displayed in 1855. Tomb and temple paintings show how it could be worn wrapped around the chest and fastened at the waist. The girdle is brightly coloured and woven with rows of ankh hieroglyphs meaning ‘life’.

This masterpiece of linen weaving will be the focus of this talk by Egyptologist Ashley Cooke, who will be discussing the provenance, interpretation, and manufacture of this unique object.

Beyond the label: I need a hero! Sporting legends of the Wondrous Place gallery
Museum of Liverpool, Saturday 19th August, 2-3pm, Ticket £7
Liverpool is known worldwide as a city associated with sporting achievement, but it goes so much deeper than football! Join curator Karen O'Rourke as she uncovers the fascinating stories of Liverpool's sporting role models including contemporaries like Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Tash Jonas, but also less-known achievers like Tom Farell, James Clarke, Lottie Dodd and Ronnie Colwell. This talk will showcase the great sporting talent Liverpool has generated including some household names like John Conteh and Dixie Dean.

Tom Wood - Documenting your Day: Portrait of a Place
Walker Art Gallery, 5 August, 1pm, (Ages 12+)
Tom Wood was prolific for capturing his environments, and in particular Liverpool - this body of work is even referred to as a “Portrait of Merseyside”. This session will allow participants to explore how they might visually represent a place they’re connected to in experimental ways, and create their own non-conventional portrait. No photography or art experience is required to join us for this creative and thought-provoking session.

Tom Wood - Documenting your Day: Psychogeography Collages
Walker Art Gallery, 26 August, 1pm, (Ages 12+)
Psychogeography is defined as “The geographical environment of a particular location, typically a city, considered with regard to its influence on the mind or on behaviour”. How do our surroundings influence our behaviours, feelings, and thoughts? Many photographers have explored psychogeography in their work, capturing changing spaces and how they influence the people that occupy them. This workshop will include a series of activities that will allow participants to explore, interpret, and be inspired by the concept of psychogeography and art photography, followed by a session creating an artwork inspired by the outcomes. 

The hidden world of the Flower Fairies
Lady Lever Art Gallery, 13 July, 1.30-2.30pm, £7
Fairies have existed in the beliefs of many cultures for a long time: sometimes helpful, sometimes mischievous…sometimes malicious. Join curator David Moffat for a talk on how fairies are viewed in traditional stories and how their close associations with the natural world, make them as alluring and mysterious as ever.


World Museum

Archaeology Workshop: Explore Everything!
World Museum
, 27 Jul, 28 Jul, 29 July, 10:30am, 12pm, 1.30pm, Children £5/ Free for accompanying adult

Calling budding young archaeologists! Get hands on and do you own mini dig.
Learn how our incredible objects got to our museum, how they are treated while they are with us, how we work out what they are and how these relics of our past were used in their own time. This session is designed for ages 5-12. Comfy clothes for messy play are recommended.

Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour
World Museum, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31 July, 2.30pm and 3pm, Adults £3/ Children £2

Ever wanted to know what it takes to look after all the amazing animals in World Museum’s aquarium? Wonder no more! Go behind the scenes in this 20 minute guided tour with an aquarium ranger to see how we look after the animals in our care, from moon jellyfish to terrapins.

Clay Time: Return of the Gods
World Museum, Friday 21 July and 15 September, £5 per child plus one adult
Clay Time is a spectacularly messy session inspired by new exhibition Return of the Gods, for little ones aged 3-5 and their grown up.
The 45 minute workshop includes our warm up games and child led clay workshop. This session will develop their gross and fine motor skills as well as their creativity. You can take away the clay creation your little one has made and sessions include a worksheet with information and ideas for using clay at home.

Walker Art Gallery

Craft and Create
Walker Art Gallery, Various dates between 27 Jul and 31 Aug, 1pm
This summer spend time together getting creative, making memories, and join in with our weekly craft workshops. Each week will have a different theme so you are welcome to join us for crafty fun throughout the holidays. 

Sudley House

Teddy Bears Picnic
Sudley House, Saturday 5 August, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm £5 children / adults free
Bring your bears along to Sudley for crafts and activities as our much-loved Teddy Bears Picnic returns to Sudley House this summer. Join Story Explorers for a bear hunt story with songs and sensory activities followed by a bear mask craft with our team.  Children can also decorate a picnic bag and make a crafty snack for their furry friends. Follow our teddy trail to explore the house and find our bear sized costumes to try on and 'Strike a Paws' for teddies of all ages, shapes and sizes and their accompanied owners aged six and under.

Museum of Liverpool

Little Liverpool Specials
Museum of Liverpool, Children £2 with two adults (free)
Little Liverpool is a hands-on fantasy world, crammed with fun activities especially for children under the age of six to play and learn. It is the perfect way to introduce little ones to the Museum of Liverpool. Look out special themed sessions: Lion Cubs, Shipmates and Scribble and Splash, available on various days. These sessions have limited numbers so booking in advance is advised - children £2 with two adults (free). 

Up Close with Archaeology
Museum of Liverpool, 15, 16, 23-30 July, 11am-12noon and 1.30pm-4pm
There is something incredibly powerful about making a connection with something that was made by hand thousands of years ago - maybe even with a thumb print still evident!

As part of this year's Festival of Archaeology, get hands on with the past as you get the chance to look at, touch, and find out about real objects from the Museum of Liverpool's archaeology collection. 

Maritime Museum

Titanic – the night the lights went out – Pop up performance
Maritime Museum, 12 Aug 11.30am, 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm, Free and no need to book. 
Look out for regular performances from role-players who’ll take visitors back in time to share stories from Liverpool’s maritime past, including fascinating tales of Liverpool’s connection to Titanic. Meet our fictional first class passenger Emily Broughton Williams, who made the fateful maiden voyage of Titanic. Hear her fascinating account of life on board and the horrors of the sinking. Suitable for all adults and children over 7. Drop-in performance, no need to book.

Titanic – Music for the Classes 
Maritime Museum, 25 and 27 July and 15, 18 and 19 August, 11am, 1, 2 and 3pm Free and no need to book.
What kind of music was playing on board Titanic during its maiden voyage?
Join in this interactive session to find out about Wallace Hartley: a violinist and band leader on board RMS Titanic. See if you can identify what type of music passengers would have been listening to during the period in which the ship sailed.

Return of the Detector Dogs! 
Maritime Museum, Every Thursday in August (3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st), 12pm, 1pm, 2pm
Visitors can meet the highly skilled detector dogs and find out more about their important work. Detector dogs have been helping to safeguard our ports and airports for many years. Each dog works with a handler from Border Force to detect hidden objects including drugs, weapons and

other smuggled goods. Sessions are drop-in, no booking required and suitable for all ages. 

Lady Lever Art Gallery

Flower Fairies: Magic in the Garden
Lady Lever Art Gallery, 8 and 9 Aug, 1-4pm
Explore mud painting, create tree hangings using natural materials, make fairy potions and meet our resident fairy storyteller at Flower Fairies: Magic in the Garden. A day filled with family-fun, Magic in the Garden is a free event and there is no need to book in advance.

Flower Fairies: craft and create
Lady Lever Art Gallery, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during summer holidays (25, 26 July, 1, 2, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 August), 1pm-4pm
Immerse yourself in nature and magic this summer and bring your family along to our Flower Fairies inspired craft and create. Each day we will be making something different inspired by the incredible artwork on display, from fairy doors and miniature fairy specimen jars to environmentally friendly crafts. Sessions are drop-in, no booking required and suitable for all ages.