The Owl and the Pussycat –  Finding the Hidden Gems in the Museums and Galleries Along the River Mersey this Summer

The Owl and the Pussycat – Finding the Hidden Gems in the Museums and Galleries Along the River Mersey this Summer

Nine cultural organisations from across the boroughs that make up the Liverpool City Region have been brought together in a project led by local artist Jeni McConnell that is inspired by Edward Lear’s poem The Owl and the Pussycat and the rich heritage that can be found along the river Mersey.

The Liverpool City Region Museums & Heritage Network was founded in 2016 and comprises 23 individual museums, galleries and heritage attractions that form a crescent around Liverpool and are filled with hidden gems and cultural treasures. The network was created in response to a collective need to increase awareness of our wonderful stories and collections and to generate footfall to and between our sites both by the local community and the many cultural tourists flocking to the city each year.

Katherine Lynch, Chair of the new network and Director of Heritage for Port Sunlight Village Trust said: “Jeni spent four months combing our collection stores and exhibition displays to identify hidden treasures and curiosities that she felt would tell stories of the area and its people. The result is a fascinating and condensed look at the area and the legendary river Mersey through 12 objects.”

From the last remaining Mersey Flat, Mossdale, to a fiddle from Southport, to pea green dyes and a stained-glass depiction of 12th century ocean-going monks, each of the objects also follows the theme of Lear’s nonsense poem. The two title creatures also feature in Jeni’s collection – in skeleton and statue form!

Katherine continued: “The poem is a fantastically creative way to connect our sites in a way that we never would have thought of. This is one of the many advantages of working with artists such as Jeni; she brings a fresh pair of eyes and a new way of looking at our collections and stories which will broaden their appeal to potential visitors.”

Edward Lear was no stranger to the area. He painted his first known watercolour here, a view from Knowsley over towards Liverpool and beyond.  And the Thirteenth Earl of Derby employed him to draw and paint his menagerie at his home in Knowsley.

All 12 objects are described in a leaflet which aims to inspire people to go and search out these local treasures for themselves. As Jeni explains: “When you delve through collections in one area it becomes clear how much they are dominated by everything that makes that place unique – the geology, landscape and natural resources all shape the story they tell.”

Jeni continues. “I spotted the owl at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool and bronze cat in the Garstang Museum of Archaeology; they gave me the theme, and everything followed naturally from that. I hope visitors enjoy this playful yet thoughtful glimpse at the wonderful collections we have along the Mersey. We want people to see for themselves, let their imaginations take flight and perhaps discover favourites that are unique to them.”

The organisations involved are all Arts Council England Accredited Museums and Galleries, or working towards, and include: Wirral Museums including the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead Priory and Wirral Transport Museum; Catalyst Science Discovery Centre & Museum in Widnes; the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port; Norton Priory Museum and Gardens in Runcorn; Port Sunlight Museum, part of Port Sunlight Village Trust in Wirral; The Atkinson in Southport; Victoria Gallery & Museum and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology, part of University of Liverpool; and Prescot Museum and The World of Glass in St Helens.

The leaflet, which gives details of all the objects and organisations involved is available from each of the venues involved and can also be downloaded from:  Look out for more information via the network’s dedicated social media channels and share your findings.


For further information please contact:

Michelle Kozomara, Marketing & Communications Manager, Canal & River Trust – Museums m 07917899222 e


Notes to Editors


About the Liverpool City Region Museums & Heritage Network


In 2016 a new Liverpool City Region Heritage Museums & Network was formed comprising 23 individual museums, galleries and heritage attractions, under the umbrella of nice cultural organisations, that form a crescent around Liverpool and are filled with hidden gems and cultural treasures. The network was created in response to Devolution and a collective need to increase our profile, improve the way in which we interpret our stories, develop new and existing audiences, and connect better with the local community and cultural tourists.

The members include:


Wirral –


Wirral Museums – Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead Priory, and Wirral Transport Museum


Port Sunlight Museum, Port Sunlight Village Trust


National Waterways Museum, Canal & Rover Trust



Liverpool –


Victoria Gallery & Museum and Garstang Museum of Archaeology, University of Liverpool



Sefton –


The Atkinson



St Helen’s –


World of Glass


Prescot Museum and Kirby Art Gallery


Halton –


Norton Priory Museum & Gardens

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre & Museum

About artist Jeni McConnell


McConnell’s intriguing socially engaged creative practice is driven by 4 key components; people, place, objects and archives, brought to life by the social connections between.


Led by detailed research, her process-driven methods develop engaging public experiences to reveal the complexities of human interaction through time, in place. This approach directly informs the methods, materials and responses which she employs, building on the visual, experiential and often conceptual references which interweave her multi-disciplinary work.


For more information about Jeni McConnell visit



Posted on 2 August 2018 under General news

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