Place
Lady Lever Art Gallery
art museum
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Lady Lever Art Gallery
art museum

Port Sunlight Village, Lower Road
Wirral
United Kingdom

Contributor

Lady Lever actually has nothing to do with the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

The most important thing about this gallery is that the best British television series of all time (obviously I speak of 2002’s The Forsyte Saga) shot a few interior scenes here. After you get over the initial excitement caused by the realization that that atrium full of art is totally the same atrium where Soames Forsyte oogles naked lady statues with his covetous eyes we can talk about the other reasons this museum is great. 

I know the Forsyte news is still sinking in but contain your excitement, we must forge ahead! Let’s start with the fact that this museum is located in a town called Port Sunlight. Port. Sunlight. “Shipping center of dessert wine and rays of heavenly warmth” must have been taken when town founder William Lever (aka Lord/ Viscount Leverhulme) began developing this tract of Cheshire land in 1899. The town, which was actually named after Lord Leverhulme’s empire-building product Sunlight Soap, was created to house factory workers and aid them in maintaining moral and happy family lives (read: no booze and love Jesus). Leverhulme had high expectations for his workers and by all accounts compensated accordingly. The town provided laborers and their families with a hospital, schools, swimming pool, concert hall, museum (we’ll talk more about you later, my pretty) and architecturally diverse housing. Leverhulme also introduced a 40 hour work week for his labor force, old age pension, free education, bought extra land to create parks for recreational use and encouraged their interests in the humanities and science. This was in 1899. It’s 2014 and California only just passed a bill guaranteeing workers a measly three paid sick days a year. I’m defecting and moving to the UK. Long live Lord Leverhulme! God save the Queen!

The museum began in Lever’s library but soon the small space was bursting at its squeaky clean seams and required a larger home. The current museum opened in 1922 by Princess Beatrice to honor the late Lady Elizabeth Lever and is now part of the National Museums Liverpool. Lady Lever’s maiden name was Hulme, which in a loving and progressive move Lord Lever added to his title when he was made a Count. The museum houses the Count’s personal collection that he claimed to have chosen based on his tastes as well as what he believed would appeal most to the housewives who most frequented the gallery. As a result the collection is known for its decorative art and large amount of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The Real Housewives of Port Sunlight: when they’re not judging the art, they’re judging each other.

Maybe the town of Port Sunlight’s history and the fact that it is on the list of considerations to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site isn’t enough for you. Maybe the museum’s impressive collection, great reviews, gorgeous architecture and hugely important television significance (best. show. ever.) leaves you shrugging your shoulders in indifference. If this is the case then consider one last thing: Admission is free. Parking is free. Wifi is free. There is public transportation options listed on the museum’s website that will get you there on the cheap. If all of this doesn’t do it for you then in the words of great Liverpudlians The Beatles, who played their first show as John, Paul, George, and Ringo in Port Sunlight’s Hulme Hall on August 18th, 1962, “Don’t Bother Me.”

 

 

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Lady Lever Art Gallery

The Lady Lever Art Gallery is a museum founded and built by the industrialist and philanthropist William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme and opened in 1922. The Lady Lever Art Gallery is set in the garden village of Port Sunlight, on the Wirral and one of the National Museums Liverpool.

The museum is a significant surviving example of late Victorian and Edwardian taste. It houses major collections of fine and decorative art that are an expression of Lord Leverhulme’s personal taste and collecting interests. The collection is strong in British 19th-century painting and sculpture, spilling over to include late 18th-century and early 20th works. There are important collections of English furniture, Wedgwood, especially jasperware, and Chinese ceramics, and smaller groups of other types of objects, such as Ancient Greek vases and Roman sculpture. The majority of objects were part of the original donation, but the collection has continued to expand at a modest rate. The museum displays mostly mixed paintings, sculpture and furniture together, and there are five "Period Rooms" recreating typical period interiors from large houses.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Lady Lever Art Gallery.