By Kenn Taylor

Along with going to Colomendy and Chester Zoo, a day out at Liverpool Museum must have ranked amongst the top school trip destinations for any child from Merseyside; a day out to see old cars, pottery, mummies and the popular aquarium. But this venerable old institution has been undergoing a massive makeover for the last few years and is no longer plain old Liverpool Museum but 'World Museum Liverpool'.

Once the only major museum in the city, it had to represent all that was in it. Its role has had to change with the opening of the likes of Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Museum of Liverpool Life, both of which left it a bit lost as to where it fitted in to our cultural landscape. The refurbished £35 million museum now promises a view of the world 'from the oceans to the stars'.

Access has been much improved; the entrance is now at ground level instead of up dozens of steps. This leads into the stunning new glass atrium where the old museum connects to the extension in the former John Moores University building, where most of the new galleries are located. The renovation has also seen the reopening of galleries that had been closed since the museum was bombed in World War II. The old mish-mash of exhibits has been replaced by clearly defined new sections: 'Space and Time', 'Natural World', 'Human World', and 'Earth'.

Additions to the museum include a new bug house and aquarium with marine and insect life better displayed than before while the Weston Discovery and the Clore Natural History centres offer the chance to get 'hands on' with exhibits from the human and natural world respectively - always good for getting kids interested. Exhibits are further brought to life by the Treasure House Theatre, which puts on live performances in relation to the exhibits. Meanwhile the new World Cultures gallery contains a selection of the antiquities brought to Liverpool by its international traders. This does a good job of explaining not only the differing cultures of the world but also how the city developed due to its international connections.

Large parts of the museum - such as the ancient civilisation and rainforest sections - have hardly changed at all in twenty years; they are still mainly objects in glass cases with little cards. However, the museum hopes to continue re-development as more money becomes available.

This is a much more user-friendly Liverpool Museum, with things explained in a way that's interesting, fun and easy to understand without being dumbed down.

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