On our last day in Liverpool, we decided to pop into the Museum of Liverpool as I’d spotted a John Lennon exhibition taking place that was free to visit. As we’d already done the British Music Experience & The Beatles Experience, we thought we’d continue the theme of the weekend.
The Museum of Liverpool is the newest addition to the city’s museums having opened in 2011. It’s easy to spot, across from the Three Graces and next door to the ferry terminal where you catch the Mersey Ferry. The first impression is that it’s big & impressive, with a large modern sweeping staircase in the centre. The kids did a little groan at this point, even though they had been good all weekend they started up with ‘Another Museum….how long are we gonna be here for?’
As we had a round of golf booked at Junkyard Golf I knew we could only spend around an hour so that seemed to keep them happy. My disclaimer at this point is that there were tons to galleries that we didn’t go in, but still thought it was worth a blog post of the one we did properly see!
Located on the top floor, the Double Fantasy exhibition is named after the 1980’s record John & Yoko put out & of which had the hits ‘Woman’ & ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’. The exhibit charts the meeting of John & Yoko at an art exhibition of her work at the Indica gallery in 1968 where she was already a famous conceptual artist to his shocking murder in 1980.
John Lennon climbed up a ladder to look through a magnifying glass at a tiny word she had placed in a frame on the ceiling of the Indica Gallery in London. The word was ‘yes’, and in interviews later, he said it was a relief, after all that, to find she had written something positive. This piece as well is displayed behind a perspex barrier & the whiteness of the room gives a realness to the exhibit that it could be that same gallery in the 1960’s.
A Love Affair
The exhibit doesn’t shy away from some of the admissions that their love affair did hurt others in the process with quotes such as this one from his eldest son Julian “Mum was more about love than Dad. He sang about it, he spoke about, but he never really gave it, at least not to me as his son.” At the time of their meeting in the gallery both were married to other people (both with children). Although Yoko had custody of her daughter her ex-husband took her on the run with an international plea broadcast on American TV from the couple to get her back. Fans of the Beatles didn’t take too kindly to Yoko Ono & blamed her for the bands split in 1970. The exhibit didn’t shy away from their split which lasted 18 months which John referred to as his ‘lost weekend’.
This exhibition was one of the best I’d been to for a long time due to its very clever curation. Photographs, outfits in cases, audio scripts, artefacts & simple black text on the white walls meant that there is always something interesting to look at. Some of the home movie footage of the couple just mucking around in the grounds of their home was a joy to watch. The exhibition was a little lost on the girls but they did enjoy watching the video for Imagine in a small cinema room and the free badge!
Death of John Lennon
You couldn’t fail to be moved by the John & Yoko Double Fantasy exhibit. From John’s struggles with the authorities to gain an American residency (his green card is in a display) to the engraved mirror he gave to Yoko, the love for his wife & New York city came across in a powerful way. His death by crazed fan Mark Chapman, in the city he loved, was a shock to the whole world & to the family who loved him. Unlike the Beatles Experience which covers the whole timespan & history of the Beatles, this exhibit gave me much more of an understanding of John Lennon & his legacy. You couldn’t fail to be moved.
As Yoko says in a quote on the wall:
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream.
“A dream we dream together is a reality.”
Liverpool’s Overhead Railway
As time was ticking we quickly popped into the Overhead railway exhibit, which was really interesting & something I’d never heard of. The Overhead Railway was the first electric elevated railway in the world, built to ease congestion & was also a tourist attraction in its own right with views of the enormous liners in the docks underneath. There was a 3D massive map of Liverpool’s garden festival which was before the Gateshead Garden Festival, so we had a little reminisce of our memories of this too.
As mentioned we didn’t get around the whole of the Museum as our time was ticking for our next attraction. We will definitely plan a return visit to the city to tick off the rest of the exhibits in the near future & learn more about the industry and history of this interesting city.
Address: Museum of Liverpool, Pier Head, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 1DG
Free entry – donations welcomed. All of National Museums Liverpool’s venues are open 10am-5pm every day except on 24, 25, 26 and 31 December and 1 January, when they are closed all day.
John & Yoko: Double Fantasy: Open until Apil 19th, 2020