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Museum of Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool

Opened in 2011, the Museum of Liverpool occupies a prominent position at Pier Head, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The waterfront development represents continued regeneration work since the European Capital of Culture celebrations were held in 2008.

Danish 3XN Architects conceived the design from circulation routes across the docks, which then became sculpted platforms and  cantilevers. The site is adjacent to Liverpool’s Three Graces, Edwardian commercial buildings linked to the city’s maritime heyday, and is bordered by a connection to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Two large picture windows (28 x 8m) allow views in opposing directions; towards the Three Graces in the North, and Albert Dock to the South. At night, they appear as beacons, gazing out over Merseyside. Jura Stone is employed to clad the 2100 tonne steel skeleton. Landscaping attempts to create public spaces around the building periphery. Construction was directed by AEW Architects, Manchester. When the development opened, it was the newest purpose-built museum in the UK for over 100 years. The building provides a larger visitor capacity than the Museum of Liverpool Life, closed in 2006, and aims to attract 750000 visitors per annum.

Pier Head Regeneration

Pier Head Regeneration

Internally, exhibitions chart Liverpuddlian culture, sporting achievements and industrial heritage. Famous writers, performers, musicians, and artists feature in ‘Wonderous Place’, along with the development of Liverpool FC and Everton FC. Recognising Liverpool’s history as a port, a gallery covers trade, imports & exports and the Liverpool to Manchester railway. As an architecture student, it was also interesting to see a 1:48 scale model of Lutyen’s plans for Liverpool Cathedral. Completed in 1932, it took 12 craftsmen one year to complete just the exterior. The exhibitions have been criticised by some for providing a popularised narrative, offering few challenging topics. However, I would argue that the museum successfully uses modern technology to engage visitors, and the large interconnected gallery spaces allow a non-linear investigation of collections. Surprisingly though, a large proportion of the building footprint is taken up by circulation. A spiral ramp connects all floors. A spiral is also printed on the foyer floor, which is allegedly a reference to local prehistoric carvings.

The Museum of Liverpool is an iconic new addition to the city skyline, contributing to the eventual regeneration of Pier Head.


Superlambanana, sculptures created by artist Taro Chiezo to mark the Capital of Culture celebrations




Photographs taken 2011.

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