Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum holds a hand through time to the city’s Victorian past. Fine art collectors, archaeologists, doctors and scientists, the gallery and museum explores the city’s heritage and offers a flavour of a defining moment in the city’s growth. Located in the city’s knowledge quarter, it is a historic red brick building featuring a beautiful clock tower, well worth a visit if you would like to take in more of Liverpool’s architecture and history.
Artists which have been featured at the VG&M include J.M.W Turner, Jacob Epstein, Lucian Freud and Elisabeth Frink. With special exhibitions running alongside the permanent collections, the art gallery explores the collections of the University of Liverpool as well as tying together threads linking the University's place in the cultural landscape, in history and artistic movements.
In the sculpture gallery, explore some of the University’s collections of Victorian sculpture. Charles John Allen (or C.J. Allen), taught for 30 years in Liverpool at the Liverpool School of Architecture. His work and his role within the movement of the New Sculptors is explored in this permanent exhibition.
The expertise of the University of Liverpool in Particle Physics is illustrated in “A World A Particle”, charting some of the technology that has fed into scientific breakthroughs. In the very building where the VG&M is now based, Oliver Lodge built the first radio able to send messages by Morse Code in 1894. There were nine Nobel Laureates from the University of Liverpool, three of which are from the physics department. The study and development of X Rays is closely tied with the University.
The atmospheric Museum is home to some of the most unique objects you’ll find at the VG&M. Early X Rays, antique calculators, fossils and skeletons, the pieces come from the University of Liverpool’s 130 year history.
At Tate Hall you can explore Nasty Nashers and Dreadful Dentures, exploring Victorian dental surgery as well as dentures made from modern teeth, dating from the Napoleonic wars.
A corner of the Museum is dedicated to John Garstang, the man who discovered the ancient Hittite civilisation. A professor of Archaeology at the University of Liverpool from 1907 to 1941, he was excavating in southeast Turkey before the Great War discovering precious artefacts. The exhibit allows you to experience life on an Edwardian archaeological dig.
A piece of history
The striking red brick building housing the VG&M is in fact where the phrase “red brick University” was first coined. Built using ordinary bricks and terracotta, Liverpool born architect Alfred Waterhouse designed it. The clock at the top of the clock tower was made by Leeds based clockmakers Mr William Potts & Sons.
Opened in 1892, the building was the centre of the University. As it grew, departments moved out in different locations, most specifically Abercromby Square. The Victoria Building became an administration hub for the Institution and later turned into the Gallery and Museum.
If you’d like to linger a while here, the building houses a stunning café on the ground floor, serving up daily hot specials and sandwiches, as well as some tempting cakes. During the week you can soak up the lively academic atmosphere created by the students and staff who frequent the café for lunch.
There’s also an app you can download from the University App Store, to interact with the building’s features and to take an interactive tour here.