When: 26th January – 15th April 2018
Where: Museum of Liverpool, Pier Head, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 1DG
£: Free admission
What is it?
Opening this weekend, The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places will explore the history of the UK’s first school for blind people, using personal stories and objects, in a new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.
Founded in 1791, Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind, in particular its buildings and the everyday lives of students, is central to the exhibition, which runs until Sunday 15th April 2018.
The exhibition features unique objects from the museum’s own collection, alongside loans, personal stories and a film made in partnership with visually impaired and blind students from St Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment, West Derby.
The exhibition is curated in partnership with Accentuate’s History of Place project, which explores 800 years in the lives of deaf and disabled people, and highlights accessible interpretation including audio description, BSL and multisensory features.
It is estimated today that there are one billion disabled people in the world. Yet the history of deaf and disabled people continues to be overlooked, despite their stories being intrinsic to the environments we live in and around every day. The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places, explores what the architectural legacy of the School can reveal about the lives of those connected with it.
The Liverpool Blind School was founded by the blind abolitionist and human rights campaigner Edward Rushton, along with a number of his blind and sighted associates.
Rushton had first hand experience of slavery through working on slave ships. His compassion for, and proximity to enslaved people led him to contract a disease which cost him his sight. As a result of his experiences of blindness and poverty, and realising the poor treatment and life chances of many less wealthy blind people, he founded the school to offer training and skills.
The exhibition gives a moving insight into the daily lives of the pupils, the strict rules that they had to follow, how they crafted objects for sale and their leisure pursuits. The exhibition also considers how although learning trades enabled students to earn a living, this sometimes replaced the basic education they were entitled to.
Central to the story are the three purpose-built buildings that housed the school during its history and how changing attitudes reflected the changing architecture to meet the needs of pupils.
You can also visit History of Place’s other exhibitions:
Brave Poor Things: Reclaiming Bristol’s Disability History at M Shed, Bristol, until April 2018.
Without Walls: Disability and Innovation in Building Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 10th February – September 2018.
More info: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk