Worlds within worlds

Minton Floor, St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Image courtesy St George’s Hall, 2018

John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1838. Image courtesy Liverpool Libraries and Information Services, Liverpool City Council

Egyptian wooden coffin of a woman, c.1539–1252 BC. Image courtesy the Garstang Museum of Archaeology, University of Liverpool

Taxidermy aardvark. Image courtesy Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool. Photo: Jay Ratcliffe

George Stubbs, A Monkey, 1799. Image courtesy Walker Art Gallery

Minton Floor, St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Image courtesy St George’s Hall, 2018

Liverpool’s history as a port city embraces moments of great prosperity as well as charting postindustrial decline and postcolonial histories. As part of Liverpool Biennial 2018, Worlds within worlds invites audiences to explore the rich histories and stories evoked by objects and artefacts from the city’s civic collections and architecture.

Worlds within worlds directs viewers towards a selection of paintings and objects at the Walker Art Gallery by artists including George Stubbs, David Hockney, Augustus John and Joseph Wright of Derby; a rare complete edition of The Birds of America by John James Audubon at the Central Library; the Haida totem pole at the World Museum; and a collection of anatomical plant models made by the Berlin firm R Brendel & Co in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. Special events include the revelation of CR Cockerell’s magnificent Minton tile floor in St George’s Hall and a presentation of the Civic Silver in the Town Hall.

Display of the Civic Silver
Town Hall

Exclusively for the Biennial, Liverpool Town Hall is giving visitors access to parts of its silver collection. The eclectic collection of the silver gifts that the city has received over the centuries takes viewers on a journey into Liverpool’s historical past.

13 August – 24 August
Open 10am–5pm
Daily tours: 10am, 11am, 1pm (£5.50)

Minton floor reveal
St George’s Hall

The encaustic-tiled Minton floor in the concert room of St George’s Hall is considered one of the world’s finest. It contains over 30,000 tiles and was amongst the largest tiled pavements when first installed in 1852. The floor has been mostly covered since then.

3 August – 12 August
Open 10am–5pm
£3 on the door

The Birds of America by John James Audubon
Central Library

Liverpool Central Library holds on display one of only 120 copies still in existence of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. The 19th-century book contains exquisite illustrations of a wide variety of birds of the United States.

On display in the Oak Room
Page-turning events every Wednesday, 12pm

Haida Pole
World Museum

The Haida pole was carved during the 1860s or 1870s and stood in front of Something Terrible Happened House – the northernmost house in the village of Xaayna (Haina), Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands, Northwest Coast, Canada). It was the centrepiece of the museum’s ethnographic collections and survived bombing during World War II.

Museum open daily, 10am–5pm

Selected paintings and objects
Walker Art Gallery

Visitors are guided to a selection of artworks from Walker Art Gallery’s collections, including works by Giovanni Bellini, John Brett, Joos van Cleve, Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet, William Davis, Peter Doig, Hubert von Herkomer, David Hockney, Augustus John, John Martin, Simone Martini, Claude Monet, Nicolas Poussin, Salvator Rosa, Salomon van Ruisdael, Frederick Sandys, George Stubbs, Guy Green Wedgewood, John Williamson and Joseph Wright of Derby. Scroll down to see the full list. 

Gallery open daily, 10am–5pm

Selected objects and collections
Victoria Gallery & Museum

A selection of objects and collections are highlighted for visitors, including the Scrimshaw collection – works of art that were carved from tusks and bones; zoological exhibits; the Waterloo Teeth collection; and the world’s first scientific best-seller from 1665, Micrographia by Robert Hooke.

Display of the Brendel Plant Models of World Museum
Victoria Gallery & Museum

A display of anatomical models of plants, made for display and teaching purposes by the Berlin firm of R Brendel & Co in Germany around the turn of the 20th century, is also presented here.

Gallery open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–5pm

Garstang Museum of Archaeology

The museum features artefacts from the excavations of Garstang in Egypt, Sudan and the Near East. The head and shoulders of an Egyptian woman’s coffin, dating back to 1539-1252 BC, is among the highlights.

Museum open Wednesday–Thursday, 10am–4pm

Chalybeate Spring 
St James’ Gardens

Discovered in 1773 by quarrymen, this natural water source named ‘Chalybeate’ – meaning ‘containing iron’ – is said to promote appetite and quicken digestion.

Allerton Oak
Calderstones Park

Allerton Oak has been named the oldest oak tree in the North West at about 1000 years old. A sign at the bottom of the tree confirms its status as a medieval court room: “One thousand years ago, Allerton did not possess a court house and it is believed that the sittings of the Hundred Court were held under the spreading branches of this tree".


John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1827-1838,Central Library
CR Cockerell, Minton floor, 1850s, St George’s Hall
Robert Hooke, Micrographia, 1665, Victoria Gallery & Museum
Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1500-1516, Walker Art Gallery
John Brett, The Stonebreaker, 1857-8, Walker Art Gallery
William Davis, The Rainbow, 1858, Walker Art Gallery
Joos van Cleve, Virgin and Child with Angels, c.1520, Walker Art Gallery
Peter Doig, Blotter, 1993, Walker Art Gallery
Guy Green, Wedgwood, Creamware plate, 1770, Walker Art Gallery
Hubert von Herkomer, Eventide: A Scene at the Westminster Union, 1878, Walker Art Gallery
David Hockney, Peter Getting Out of Nick's Pool, 1966, Walker Art Gallery
Augustus John, Two Jamaican Girls, 1937, Walker Art Gallery
John Martin, The Last Man, 1849, Walker Art Gallery
Simone Martini, Christ discovered in the temple, 1342, Walker Art Gallery
Claude Monet, Ice Breaking Up on the Seine Near Bennecourt, 1893, Walker Art Gallery
Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with the Ashes of Phocion, 1648, Walker Art Gallery
Salvator Rosa, Landscape with hermit, 1660s, Walker Art Gallery
Salomon van Ruysdael, River Scene with Ferry Boat, 1650, Walker Art Gallery
Frederick Sandys, Helen of Troy, about 1867, Walker Art Gallery
George Stubbs, A Monkey, 1799, Walker Art Gallery
Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet, Interior of the New Church at Deft, with tomb of William 'the silent', 1667, Walker Art Gallery
John Williamson, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1791, Walker Art Gallery
Joseph Wright of Derby, The Lady in Milton's Comus, 1785, Walker Art Gallery

Objects and Sites

Allerton Oak, 1,000-year-old, Calderstones Park
Amber cabinet, 1700, Walker Art Gallery
Elkington and Co., Birmingham, Table centrepiece, Walker Art Gallery
Mirror case, 1320, Walker Art Gallery
Totem pole, Haida, likely carved in 1860s-70s, World Museum
Brendel botanical plant models, early 20th century, World Museum
Head and shoulders of an Egyptian wooden coffin of a woman, c.1539-1252 BC, Garstang Museum
Chalybeate Spring, discovered 1773, St James’ Gardens
Civic silver, Liverpool Town Hall
Lion skull, Victoria Gallery & Museum
Mammoth teeth and elephant teeth, Victoria Gallery & Museum
Owl skeleton, Victoria Gallery & Museum
REN, Pickleherring Pottery, Pottery dish,Walker Art Gallery
Scrimshaw Collection, Victoria Gallery & Museum
Stuffed aardvark, Victoria Gallery & Museum
Stuffed sloth, Victoria Gallery & Museum