Big events to return to Mersey museums

Following the success of the global G7 summit National Museums Liverpool is set to resume its events programme in 2022 which provides a vital source of income. Tony McDonough reports

Liz Truss with other foreign ministers at the G7 summit at the Museum of Liverpool


National Museums Liverpool (NML) says it is ready to resume staging major events at its Merseyside venues in 2022 following the success of the G7 global summit.

Earlier this month, foreign ministers from across the world, led by the then UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, came together at the Museum of Liverpool to discuss the impact the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.

It was the first major event NML had hosted since before the pandemic struck in March 2020. Now its team is working behind the scenes to bring events, a vital source of revenue, back to its seven venues in 2022.

Latest figures show a steady return to growth for NML’s commercial activity, despite ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Its Hosted by NML venue hire business is currently on track to finish the financial year (to April 2022) just 16% down on the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 – with new short lead bookings for 2022 helping to close the gap further.

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NML’s venues are Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Sudley House and Lady Lever Art Gallery. They are some of the best-visited museums outside of London. For every £1 of Government aid NML receives it needs to raise a further 45p from commercial income and fundraising.

Karen O’Connor, director of commercial enterprises at NML, said: “As well as welcoming millions of visitors a year, we also host a busy schedule of commercial events – which help to fund our work.

“Our events business was on hold this time last year, and if anyone had told me that we’d now be hosting a major international event, I wouldn’t have believed them – the international spotlight on Liverpool has been a welcome boost to the economy and the hospitality industry.

Museum of Liverpool
The Museum of Liverpool on the city’s waterfront. Picture by Gareth Jones


“We’ve been welcoming the public back to our museums safely since lockdown ended. Our own events are back on track, and we have pivoted our business to support the return of commercial events too – with businesses starting to re-establish events programmes.”

NML has big plans for its own events and exhibitions. Next year will see the world premiere of Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder at World Museum, as well as The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics exhibition at Walker Art Gallery.

NML’s venues have also been chosen as the backdrop for a number of commercial filming projects this year, including Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders, Silent Witness, Funny Girl, Tin Star, Anthony, The Irregulars and the Almond and the Seahorse.

Karen adds: “We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to keep the creativity in our venues alive – and while there are still challenges for us to navigate, we are preparing for growth in commercial events and venue hire during 2022.”

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