- Visit the International Slavery Museum to learn about the British Slave Trade, from its beginnings, to its afterlives, and how Africa has been effected, with details about its past, and currently.
- Check out the exhibitions, some harrowing, some more positive, all offering a deep insight into this international history and its impact.
- Don't miss out on the activities such as boat crafting, face painting, workshops, storytelling sessions and more.
- Be sure to stroll down the Liverpool docks to see what other museums and galleries you can visit.
Unlike many museums, the International Slavery Museum traces the history and journey of life before, during and after contemporary slavery, a one of a kind experience that is fascinating and thought-provoking. By telling the story of people in West Africa, and how they lived their lives before Europeans arrived there, and its prosperity, cultural richness and diversity, you and your kids will learn so much, opening your minds to new levels.
Opening on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British Slave Trade, the International Slavery Museum has led the way for material, collections and resources regarding slavery, its remembrance, its afterlives and human rights. Regularly, there are workshops, events, talks, and lectures on at this museum of Liverpool, recognising the devastating effects of slavery.
For anyone wishing to gain a true insight into slavery, the massive impact that the Transatlantic Slave Trade has had on both Britain and beyond, then you should make a trip to this museum. There are informative, interactive and fascinating exhibitions that tell the stories of individuals, from enslaved people to those trading them. It can be emotional, and harrowing at times, but this is necessary to truly gauge the impact and monstrosity of slavery. It will open your eyes massively, so you can share this new information on to continue the important work of the International Slavery Museum.
Children will find facts and stories relating to traditional West African culture at the start of the museum journey, with a focus on Igbo people, who are native to Southern Nigeria and the Equatorial Guinea. There are family replicas to aid you as your walk through the museum, with interesting exhibits and more. This journey continues through to when enslavement began here, through immersive, multi-sensory displays combining audio, visuals, walk-through displays and more. These all convey aspects of the atrocities of slavery and the circumstances and conditions of the Atlantic Trade ships. You will be spoken to by narrations of people on the ship who were enslaved and treated as worthless, giving you an insight into their lives.
The later areas of the museum that you arrive at near the end tell the stories of racism in the afterlives of slavery, endured by black people, even after abolition of the slave trade. This is not where the museum exhibitions finish, though, as after you'll find more upbeat and positive displays about how black culture has impacted contemporary societies in the United States of America and countries in Europe. Although the museum begins with harrowing details, the end is much lighter, although this should not take away from the experience and everything you will learn here. Some stories you will come across include the Medieval and Renaissance ivories exhibition, along with Familiar spirits and devilish imps regarding witchcraft and supernatural spirits and From Liverpool to Lagos, which details the importance of minor details on objects revealing a larger history.
You get immersed into the history of the slave trade and its after effects through carefully curated personal experiences from real people, like a ship captain and his diary. This narrates the story of a standard ship trip, as it departs from Liverpool's docks and arriving in West Africa. The traders captured people and enslaved as many as they could in order to begin the harrowing 'middle passage' journey from West Africa across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Of the enslaved people who survived, they were traded for profit, in exchange for products such as sugar, cotton, rum and tobacco, which was sent back to Britain. The displays at the exhibitions feature authentic, original chains that were used to shackle people, along with horrific items, objects and instruments that were used against enslaved people and those who dared to rebel.
Although this can be an emotional trip, there are plenty of family-fun activities to break up your day, such as zine-making, which can also be done from home along with Lego making, drawing, crafting boats, storytelling sessions by renowned authors, face painting and art sessions inspired by artists like Linda McCartney. For more informative days out in Liverpool, check out the Liverpool Beatles Museum to soak up a bit of Liverpool culture and history, featuring great exhibitions and activities.
Plus, there are plenty of events that run regularly where you can get out of the museum itself to explore the Liverpool Docks by Merseyside Maritime Museum, a part of the Museum of Liverpool, along with those like the Tate Liverpool, too. Other National museums Liverpool museums to check out, Albert Dock Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum. Plus, check out the Dressed to Impress event to really immerse yourself in the days events.
For those looking for some active fun in Liverpool, check out the Knowsley Safari Park to experience a trail like no other, with interesting talks, rides, and zoological fun.
What to know before you go
- The International Slavery Museum opening times are 10am to 5pm.
- When you're feeling peckish, there is a cafe on site with a good range of food, snacks and refreshments. Plus, being in central Liverpool, you're spoilt for choice with a range of family friendly eateries, independent cafes, markets and more.
- There are toilets, baby changing facilities (ground and third floor), and accessible toilets (back of the gallery).
- The site is largely accessible, with seating dotted around in case you get tired, plus lifts, wheelchairs are available to borrow too.
- The International Slavery Museum is located just a short walk away from the Albert Docks, not far from Liverpool city centre.
- If travelling via public transport, the International Slavery Museum is located conveniently near Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool Central and James Street. You can get a bus or you can also get to the museum via ferry and walking, too.
- If travelling via car, go via North John Street.
- There is parking and spaces for badge holders. Alternatively, look here for NCP parking nearby.