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Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010
Objects tell history of the world
Curator Clem Fisher with World Museum Liverpool's Dodo

The BBC and local museums have teamed up for a year long project to chronicle the world's development through objects, in A History of the World.

Local museums have selected an initial ten objects representing our heritage.

Objects include the church hall stage John Lennon played on the day he met Paul McCartney, a 3000 year old child's rattle and the propeller from torpedoed liner Lusitania.

Museums across Merseyside and Cheshire are uploading items to a website.

Museum objects

The ten initial objects are from the collections of local museums and also include the skeleton of a Dodo, a Titanic survivors lifejacket, a statue of Athena, a shipbuilder's model of confederate raider CSS Alabama, a Roman cavalryman's tombstone, a 1500 year old canoe and a giant statue of St Christopher.

Anyone will be able to add objects they think are important to the A History of the World website.


Steve Judd, Deputy Director of World Museum Liverpool, was involved in choosing the first ten objects for Merseyside and Cheshire, "They are all so different and represent the amazing richness of the museum collections in our region which help to give visitors deep insights into the world and its peoples," he says.

"The hardest thing of all was only choosing ten objects - we could have chosen a thousand and ten and we'd still have been agonising about what we'd left out

"One of the great things about the A History of the World project is the way that it has brought so many organisations together locally and nationally.

"At National Museums Liverpool we've really enjoyed working with the other museums in our region, local and national BBC and the British Museum to play our part in this unique and hugely ambitious project."

From National Museum's Liverpool collection is the stage of St Peter's Church Hall, Woolton which John Lennon stood on performing the evening he met Paul McCartney on 6 July, 1957.

Lennon's band The Quarrymen had earlier played outside at the church fete and it was after their evening performance that John and Paul were introduced by mutual friend Ivan Vaughan.

The stage was dismantled in 2002 when the church hall was renovated.

"In many ways this is such an ordinary stage," says Paul Gallagher Curator of Contemporary Collecting at the Museum of Liverpool.

Beatles stage
Paul McCartney first saw John Lennon perform on this stage in July 1957

"We've all possibly through our lives stood on a very similar stage in church halls and school halls.

"It's not even a particularly beautiful stage but it has enormous power for us for the story of the Beatles."

The stage, which is currently in storage, will take it's place in the new Museum of Liverpool which opens in 2011.

Liverpool's Maritime Museum have an object that recalls Liverpool's relationship to one of the world's most famous disasters, the sinking of the Titanic.

Titanic's owners The White Star line were based in Liverpool, but the Maritime Museum's, a lifejacket from a survivor of the ship, comes from a more humble source.

"It was donated by Mr Earnest Sinclair of West Derby Liverpool," explains Dr Alan Scarth, Curator of Ship Models at the Maritime Museum.

"In 1912 he was a 19 year older waiter on board the rescue ship Carpathia.

"You can see that it's actually had its tapes cut from the survivor at the time.

"It was obviously quicker to cut the tapes at the sides rather than undo the bows at the front.

"It's a really evocative item to bring home to people the tragedy that was the sinking of the Titanic."

One of the objects from Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead is a 3000 year old Cypriot child's rattle which illustrates the reach of Liverpool's shipping family's.

The rattle was acquired by the Bibby family in extraordinary circumstances, "There was civil unrest in Nicosia and one of the Bibby family was cruising in his private yacht around the Mediterranean," explains Colin Simpson from the Williamson Museum.

Cypriot child's rattle
The 3000 year old Cypriot child's rattle from Williamson Art Gallery

"The arrival of his yacht in Nicosia harbour was mistaken for a British gunboat and had the effect of quelling the unrest.

"So relieved were the government of Cyprus they gave 100 architectural finds from the island to Mr Bibby as a thank-you gift.

"The little rattle was amongst them."

Steve Judd says for him the rattle is a real stand out object, "It's really difficult to choose one object because they all tell such compelling stories, but if I was pushed, I'd choose the Cypriot child's rattle from the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead - it's amazing that this cute clay pig has survived for 3,000 years.

"I'm sure it will appeal to children today as much as it must have done all those years ago - sometimes the simplest toys are the best."

Also included in the ten objects is a skeleton of a Dodo held by World Museum Liverpool.

The skeleton of the bird, which became extinct at the end of the 17th Century, is made up of bones from several different Dodo's.

For many years it was thought to have the best preserved toes of any museum specimen, until it was recently discovered that the toes and were man-made and carved from wood.

To find out more about the ten local objects tune in to Breakfast with Tony Snell on BBC Radio Merseyside 95.8FM weekdays from 0600 to 1000GMT.

Watch BBC Inside Out North West (Monday 18 January, BBC ONE, 7.30pm) as Andy Johnson goes in search of Bidston Observatory's Tide Prediction Machine in Wirral.

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