Perhaps school trips are to blame.
Once the very exciting coach ride to any museum, gallery or stately home was over and you’d told your mate everything that you’d brought along for lunch , the actual object of the visit could often be a letdown.
Because let’s face it, looking at the various implements cook may once have used to crush walnuts for the Lord and Lady’s dinner is not the stuff that’s going to light up your average seven-year-old’s life.
The only problem with such negative early exposure is that it can put you off going to museums as an adult.
But if there’s one city where you needn’t worry about tactfully muffling a yawn while you wander round the exhibits, it’s Liverpool.
Throughout the year, the team at National Museums Liverpool pride themselves on coming up with displays that have something for everyone. What’s more, there’s usually something in one of our many museums that focuses on the lighter side of life while also providing some excellent social commentary.
Don’t believe us? Here’s an example of what you can see in the city at the moment.
Model Image, Lady Lever Art Gallery
The 1950s was the decade when Britain began to shake off the shackles of post-wat austerity and a generation who had been defined by a conflict began to discover their own identity.
As glamour began to sneak back into our daily lives, so did careers in the modelling industry. This exhibition explores the life of Liverpool’s own June Duncan who appeared in the pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar during the era.
The exhibition, running until April next year, has some of June’s evening dresses on display as well as more than 90 photos from the 1930s through to the ’50s.
As with all National Museums Liverpool exhibitions, there are talks and workshops on the same theme running alongside the exhibition. Don’t forget to check the website to find out more.
Herbert – a life in bling, Museum of Liverpool
This is more a display than an exhibition but it also serves as a great introduction to our waterfront museum as it’s just inside the main entrance.
It involves four of the favourite suits worn by the city’s favourite celebrity hairdresser who passed away in October last year. As well as showing off Herbert Howe’s undisputed style, it’s also the perfect way to remember him on the first anniversary of his death.
Gerry and the Pacemakers, Museum of Liverpool
Subtitled Hit Makers and Record Breakers, this shows 30 photographs from 1963 onwards which depicts the rise to fame of Gerry Marsden and his band as they amassed six UK top 10 hits in just 18 months.
All photographs were taken by Graham Spencer and Peter Kaye and will be on show until January 7.
Tales From the City, Museum of Liverpool
They can certainly fit a lot into this museum. The third example for our list only opened last month and shares stories and memories from the city’s LGBT+ community.
It marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales but focuses on all members of the community, from lesbians to drag queens and those who suffered under Thatcher’s Section 28 and the shadow of AIDS and HIV in the 1980s.
It’s not a morbid exhibition, far from it. You’re encouraged to delve into the dressing up box and take a selfie and there’s even an original piece of Lily Savage leopard print haute couture on show. It’s also not due to close until 2018 so you’ve plenty of time to experience the stories and sequins.
Transformation, Sudley House
Sudley House itself is a tucked-away gem of a venue, found on Mossley Hill Road, not far from south Liverpool’s many university halls of residence.
This exhibition tells the story of one man, Peter Farrer, who spent much of his life in Liverpool.
He began cross-dressing at the age of 14 and before his death earlier this year, he had accumulated an impressive wardrobe of garments with a particular emphasis on evening dresses.
Subtitled One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe, this exhibition features 21 items from Peter’s collection, showing the fashion trends he lived through for almost a century.
Museum of Liverpool
Making Himself Claire, Walker Art Gallery
In similar style to the Sudley House exhibit and what seems to be a common theme on diversity, the LGBT community (and clothes!) at the moment, this is a rare example to see the dresses owned by artist and activist Grayson Perry .
Just like the aforementioned Peter Farrer, Grayson cross-dressed from an early age but wasn’t satisfied with the traditional outfits for women so came up with ones more suited to a fantasy world he invented for himself where he felt safer. This led to the development of a persona known as Claire and it is her dresses on show at the Walker until February 4 next year.
Beyond Dredd & Watchmen: The Art of John Higgins, Victoria Gallery & Museum
The art of the comic book is always fascinating, especially as it links to our childhoods.
This exhibition in the Brownlow Hill venue (part of the University of Liverpool campus) looks at the contribution city-born artist John Higgins made to such comics and graphic novels as Judge Dredd and 2000AD.
And don’t forget, the Terracotta Warriors will arrive in the new year – and everyone has to take a look at them when they get here.