Kay Jones, Curator of Urban Community History at Museum of Liverpool, tells VocalEyes how the Museum went about building accessible and sensory elements into their latest exhibition Blitzed: Liverpool lives.
The exhibition reveals the devastation the Blitz brought to the lives and city of Liverpool in photographs taken by Liverpool City Police between 1940 and 1941.
A range of sensory experiences
While developing the content for this exhibition I was very keen not only to include tactile versions of some of the photographs but to also use smells to evoke memories and provide a range of sensory experiences.
Many of the dramatic photographs show burning rubble and huge fires. You can almost feel the heat and smell the acrid burning, I even added this description into the text label for some of the photographs. I wanted to bring the image to life for visitors in a range of ways. There are three wartime smells on display; the 1930s street, street bomb and wartime underground. A range of visitors, young and old are certainly enjoying exploring the evocative smells and they’re acting as a great discussion point between visitors, encouraging debate and memory sharing.
In previous exhibitions, and in permanent parts of the Museum, we have used tactile images and models. Most recently tactile plans of the Royal School for the Blind (Liverpool) were used in the temporary exhibition, ‘Blind School: Pioneering People and Places’ produced in partnership with History of Place. These plans were made by Tactile Studios so I approached them again regarding reproducing some of the Blitz photographs. They on advised which images would work best to be reproduced from the selection I sent and we settled on two for the exhibition. One image is of a couple standing in their back garden of Score Lane, south Liverpool next to a huge unexploded parachute mine! There is braille text accompanying these images.
An audio point at the start of the exhibition describes the exhibition content and physical space for orientation proposes. There are also audio interviews of people who experienced the Blitz.
The Museum also has tactile objects with braille labelling displayed throughout and a braille guide to the Museum is available from the information desk. It is also possible to book a tactile tour of the Museum. If you would like to visit as a group and have specific access requirements please contact Julia Bryan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cloakroom lockers and keyrings have braille labelling and drinking bowls for assistance dogs are available from the information desk.