The night World Museum nearly died

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The upper horseshoe gallery was home to the natural history collections in 1941. In pride of place was Don Pedro, the Indian elephant The upper horseshoe gallery was home to the natural history collections in 1941. In pride of place was Don Pedro, the Indian elephant.

Over the next few weeks Lolo, a student working at World Museum, will blog about the events of the 3rd May 1941 – the night World Museum nearly died. Here at the museum we are preparing to launch an on-line exhibition on the 3rd May. We will recount what happened that night 75 years ago and Lolo will also be writing blogs that reveal in more depth what happened to some of the museum’s objects.

"Many of you will know that Liverpool was bombed during the May Blitz of 1941. But did you know that Liverpool Museum (now World Museum) was also a victim of the Blitz? Both the building and the collections that were still on display were turned to charred rubble. Those who saw the aftermath never forgot. Thirty years after the bombing in 1971, Frederick Wilkinson, a museum attendant spoke to the Liverpool Echo recalling what he saw when he arrived for work that morning:

When I arrived at 5.30a.m. on May 4, it was to find the museum in flames. The roof had collapsed and with it a lot of masonry, trapping the fireman’s hoses. The main hall with the ventilator shafts and wooden beams had gone up in flames, and I shall never forget seeing the flames sweeping around the galleries.

The upper horseshoe gallery after the bombing on the 3rd May 1941 The upper horseshoe gallery after the bombing on the 3rd May 1941

On that night objects from across the museum fell victim to the bombing – from Indian elephants to New Zealand carvings."