Turner nominee leads National Museums Liverpool Black History Month events

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Events at National Museums Liverpool 

A powerful new exhibition by 2017 Turner Prize Nominee Lubaina Himid MBE, leads a packed Black History Month programme taking place at many of National Museums Liverpool’s museums and galleries this October.

Opening at the Walker Art Gallery from 7 October to 18 March 2018, Lubaina Himid: Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money features works selected by Lubaina from the Arts Council Collection, alongside 20 figures from her major installation Naming the Money.

The pieces selected by Lubaina for this exhibition are all by women artists, and will occupy one room within the gallery. At the centre of this display is her 1987 series of watercolour drawings, ‘Scenes from the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture’, about the formerly enslaved who led the Haitian revolution. The meticulous detail within this series, and its focus upon some key moments and everyday happenings in L'Ouverture’s life, has inspired Lubaina’s selection of other works by artists including Bridget Riley and Claudette Johnson.

The full installation Naming the Money was gifted by the artist to the International Slavery Museum. It addresses how Europe’s wealthy classes spent their money and flaunted their power in the 18th and 19th centuries, by using enslaved African men and women. The highly individual sculptural figures, each with their own profession and life-story, demonstrate how enslavement was disguised and glamorised. The enslaved people were made to look like servants or dressed in the clothes of courtiers. Visitors to the Walker will find groups of these figures positioned around the gallery in configurations determined by the artist.

Lubaina says

“My relationship with the Walker has developed over the years because of the 19th century sculptor Edmonia Lewis, she and I are the only women of colour to have work acquired by this wonderful public collection. Her exquisite sculpture of Longfellow influenced my choice of work from the Arts Council Collection.”

Director of Art Galleries, Sandra Penketh, says:

“Lubaina Himid is one of the most influential artists working in the UK today. Her work is powerful, dazzling and engaging. Lubaina’s project at the Walker will be thought provoking not only in terms of Black histories but also in considering how artists look at and represent the world they inhabit. We’re excited to see how her work transforms some of the Walker’s rooms.”

The International Slavery Museum (ISM) co-hosts the Historians Against Slavery 2017 conference 7 and 8 October, which is being held for the first time outside of the U.S. It is a biennial event, which this year brings together a distinguished body of leading scholars, museum professionals and anti-slavery activists from around the world to look at how history can inform contemporary efforts to end the enslavement of 46 million people worldwide. Places are free and can be booked online at https://www.has2017.eventbrite.co.uk

Other events at ISM include talks examining transatlantic slavery and its abolition, and another looking at Liverpool’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. Visitors to both talks will be able to handle objects from the Museum’s collections that bring to life the horrors of slavery and the experiences of the enslaved.  Poetess Empress-jai presents a talk about the life and music of musician Nina Simone, exploring how she used her music to speak out about inequality and injustice, as well as her activism in the Civil Rights Movement. For families and people of all ages, there will be craft making sessions and workshops.

At Merseyside Maritime Museum, the new exhibition Black Salt: Britain’s Black Sailors opens on Friday 29 September. Combining personal stories, historic data, objects and memorabilia, Black Salt charts a course through the often troubled waters of Britain’s maritime past to explore the work and experiences of Black seafarers over a 500 year period. Historically overlooked, the exhibition shows how they contended with the dangers and hazards of life at sea, and challenged inequality on board and ashore.

Throughout Black History Month there’s a special programme of free events to accompany the exhibition, including a talk by local historian Ray Costello about the role of Black sailors at the Battle of Trafalgar. The exhibition was informed by Ray’s book Black Salt: Seafarers of African Descent on British Ships, with one section dealing with the battle. It features one of the widest paintings in the Walker Art Gallery’s collections, Daniel Maclise’s The Death of Nelson.

The main highlights are listed below, for the full programme, visit: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/blackhistorymonth

International Slavery Museum


Ink and blood: stories of abolition

Until 8 April 2018

This new exhibition explores the personal stories of previously enslaved people and the lasting legacies of, as well as contemporary responses to, abolition. The exhibition brings together a fascinating private collection, iconic documents from leading museums and archives in Britain, and rare objects from both the Anti-Slavery International library and the International Slavery Museums’ Collecting cultures collection.


Liverpool and slavery

5 October, 3-4pm

Nina Simone in focus

14 October, 1-2pm

Slavery and abolition

17 October, 3-4pm


Historians Against Slavery Biennial Conference 2017

October 7, 8, 10am-4.30pm
Register Online: https://www.has2017.eventbrite.co.uk

Merseyside Maritime Museum


Black Salt: Britain’s Black Sailors

Until 2 September 2018


18th century Black mariners

1 October, 2-3pm

Dr Charles R. Foy, Associate Professor of Early American and Atlantic History at Eastern Illinois University, discusses 18th century Black maritime culture. Former fellow at the National Maritime Museum and Mystic Seaport, Dr Foy has published more than a dozen articles on Black seafarers and is the creator of the Black Mariner Database, a dataset of more than 27,000 18th century Black Atlantic mariners.

Black seafarers at Trafalgar

7 October, 2pm

Liverpool historian, Dr Ray Costello presents an on-gallery talk focussing the overlooked role of Black sailors who took part in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Black Tudor and Stuart Sailors

28 October, 2-3pm

Dr Miranda Kaufmann talks about her new book Black Tudors: The Untold Story, part of which unearthed the experiences of a number of Black sailors going back hundreds of years, including Jaques Francis, the diver dispatched to salvage lost treasures from the wrecked Mary Rose.

Family craft activity

Joseph Johnson’s hat crafts

1, 22, 23 October, 1-4pm

Join us to create your own hat inspired by the enormous one worn by Black sailor, Joseph Johnson in the early 19th century.

Walker Art Gallery


Lubaina Himid: Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money

7 October 2017 – 18 March 2018


Paul Maheke: Mbu

12 October, 1 and 3pm

Performed in collaboration with Cédric Fauq, Mbu combines multi-layered video projection with dance, sound and live percussion to speculate about embodied histories. The title Mbu means ocean or sea in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and mother tongue of Maheke's father, whose singing features in the soundtrack.

Museum of Liverpool

Black Community and History Trail

With the oldest Black community in Europe, Liverpool has a major place in UK Black history. This free trail highlights some of the Museum’s collection, which reflects the contribution of this community throughout the city’s history.


Free entry
Open daily 10am-5pm

Notes to editors:

International Slavery Museum

The International Slavery Museum opened in August 2007. It is situated on the third floor of the Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Albert Dock. It is the only national museum in the world to cover the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies as well as contemporary forms of slavery and enslavement. It is also an international hub for resources on human rights issues and campaigning. 

Find us on Facebook

Twitter: @slaverymuseum


Merseyside Maritime Museum

Merseyside Maritime Museum was the first public building to open at Albert Dock 30 years ago in 1986, heralding the renaissance of Liverpool’s iconic waterfront. Once a warehouse for high value goods like tea, silk, sugar and spirits, the Museum now explores Liverpool’s maritime history through its large and varied collection. Highlights include a lifejacket from a Titanic survivor, beautiful ship models, maritime paintings, colourful posters from the golden age of liners and even some full-sized vessels. Two major exhibitions tell the stories and history behind the tragic sinkings of Lusitania and Titanic, and their links to Liverpool. Visitors can also learn what it’s like to be a customs officer and captain a high speed cutter to stop smugglers in the hands-on gallery Seized! the Border and Customs uncovered.

Find us on Facebook

Twitter: @merseymaritime


Walker Art Gallery

The Walker Art Gallery houses an internationally-renowned collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative art. It is one of Europe’s finest galleries, with a collection that ranges from outstanding modern and contemporary works to Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces. Some of the greatest British artists of the last century are represented in the contemporary galleries, from Lucian Freud to David Hockney, while the Gallery’s Impressionist collection is not to be missed. Visitors can also see paintings by 17th and 18th century masters including Poussin, Rembrandt and Gainsborough, before taking in the Walker’s famed Pre-Raphaelite collection. Younger visitors will love Big Art for Little Artists, a gallery designed to introduce children to art in a fun and interactive way. The Walker Art Gallery is an Arts Council Collection National Partner. Between April 2016 and March 2019, the Gallery will curate and host an exciting and innovative series of contemporary art exhibitions, drawn from the Arts Council Collection.

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Twitter: @walkergallery


Museum of Liverpool

The Museum of Liverpool is one of the country’s most visited museums outside of London. It is the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for more than a century, demonstrating Liverpool’s unique contribution to the world. The first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city, it showcases popular culture while tackling social, historical and contemporary issues. It has attracted more than four million visitors since opening in July 2011. The prestigious Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2013 was awarded to the Museum for its commitment to human rights as well as its work with children and families from all backgrounds.

The Museum has received generous support from several major funders, and grants from trusts and foundations, corporate support and individual donations. Major funders include the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS),Garfield Weston Foundation and the Clore Duffield Foundation.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) was responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of England’s Northwest and had five key priorities: Business, Skills and Education, People and Jobs, Infrastructure and Quality of Life.

The European Development Fund (ERDF) is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment. ERDF in the North West is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government – for further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.5billion across the UK. 


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Twitter: @museum_liverpool


National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract around 3 million visitors annually. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Seized! (Border Force National Museum), Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.