A local history collection has all kinds of opportunities to engage with your local area. Local historians, writers and societies are crucial for expertise and connections here. Your museum, gallery or site is probably already host to one.


Local portraits and schools of art are likely to have locally born and bred artists and this can be another area of research leading to a learning programme.


Family history is another good theme for a learning programme and for more information on portraiture and family history click here.


Localised cultural participation is a driver for participation and attendance amongst key BME and lower socio-economic audiences.



A good example: Museum of Liverpool

The newly-opened Museum of Liverpool has put interpretation of collections and the city by local people at its heart. The People’s Republic gallery is about the experience of living in the city and what it means to be Liverpudlian. This gallery shares peoples’ memories and experiences of living in the city and through great social upheavals to create an emotional response for visitors as well as encourage debate about ‘issues affecting the city today’. Within this approach, portraits of people, past and present, have been used extensively though not separated out as ‘portraiture’. This is an interesting approach to portraits within local history collections.


‘The Secret Life of Smithdown Road’ epitomises this approach with community collaboration, use of social media and museum collections to put memories, opinions and urban geography on display:


Explore the significance and meaning of ‘home and neighbourhood’ to people from across Merseyside in this special exhibition. Working in partnership with community groups and local residents, the Museum of Liverpool has explored two distinct neighbourhoods.

In The Secret Life of Smithdown Road, you can see the changing face of this much-loved road through photographs, memories, objects and film. Add your own recollections of Smithdown to our Secret Life of Smithdown facebook page or add your photos to the Secret Life of Smithdown Flickr group.



The museum runs ‘Remember when .. .?’ guided talks in the galleries to encourage the sharing of memories through enjoying ‘a good old nostalgia trip down memory lane’ especially for older local people. In addition the museum organises Memory Walks to:


Take a gentle stroll through Liverpool’s past. Do you remember when the river Mersey was full of ships? Shops like Blacklers? Days out at New Brighton? Visiting Colomendy?
If so, you may enjoy our memory walk. You’ll see some objects and images that you might just remember, share memories and stories and find out how Liverpool’s history is being told today.


These walks and talks could be useful tools in considering portraits of people and places within local or institutional collections.



Return to ‘Themes around learning with portraiture’