Lusitania: Life, Loss, Legacy, Liverpool

Liverpool’s involvement with the Titanic is a story well-known, but its connection with the tragic story of the Lusitania is less familiar. This in-depth new exhibition coincides with the centenary of the Lusitania’s sinking during World War One – an event that caused international outrage due to the loss of over 1,000 civilians. 

Liverpool’s Maritime Museum tells the personal stories of those trapped onboard the liner – its crew and passengers – and what became of them. There’s rare film, model and interactive exhibits that bring home the impact of the tragedy on Liverpool families. 

Check the website for regular events and take the opportunity to visit the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Dining Rooms in the same building. There’s also a huge range of artefacts recovered from the Lusitania, including its propeller and a poem written by a father to the unborn daughter he would never meet.

Surgeons' Hall, Edinburgh

Make no bones about it - they definitely didn’t teach like this at school! The Surgeon’s Hall Museum is a collection of the most curious medical artefacts imaginable and therefore a treasure trove of the bizarre and the ingenious. With marvels such as a pair of glasses with a prosthetic eye attached, this is certainly an eyebrow-raising stash. It’s probably best to time your visit so you don’t have a full stomach if you’re extra squeamish, but don’t let a few brains in jars put you off.

One of the finest permanent collections is The Real Sherlock Holmes. It contains objects celebrating Holmes creator Conan Doyle’s friendship with medic Joseph Bell - who became president of the Royal College of Surgeons - and charts how medical insight helped to shape the world’s most famous detective. The history of surgery, story of pathology and touring exhibitions flesh out the fantastic body of work on show.

Lit and Phil Society, Newcastle

A few yards from Newcastle’s Central Station, the Lit and Phil is a haven for book lovers and open to all for browsing and a freshly brewed coffee. Originally set up as a conversation club in the late 18th century, this is a beautiful space to escape the bustle of one of the north’s most vibrant city centres. You can easily lose hours in the collection of books and music, unearthing exquisite editions in the largest independent library outside London.  

Looking to expand your mind? Regular evening lectures are advertised on the society’s Facebook page. This month ‘Three Steps to Modernism’ will introduce audiences to Manet on 2 September, Picasso on 9 September and Matisse on 16 September – all at 6pm. Entry costs £2 or £5 for all three.  

There’s also a free tour of the library at 10.30am every first Saturday and third Wednesday of the month, but take note - it’s closed on Sundays. After all, your brain needs a day of rest too.

Steel City, Sheffield

More than just cutlery, Sheffield’s role in the steel industry goes under the microscope in Steel City, City On The Move. The title refers to a promotional film shot in 1970s Sheffield, but the underlying sentiment came to be seen as unfortunately ironic. The exhibition examines how the steel trade forged Sheffield and its twin city of Pittsburgh through boom times and decline.  

Artist Jo Peel leads the way to through a variety of media, with pictures and paintings of both Sheffield and Pittsburgh’s architecture - its buildings, cafés and everyday life. It’s a portrait of a city - both intriguing and warm - that has endured difficult times but now finds itself at ease with its economic and cultural history.  

Many artworks are available to buy and there’s a film featuring residents from both cities looking at what unites them, despite living an ocean apart. Entry is free - so even that’s a steal. 

Revolution Gallery, MOSI, Manchester

This is science, but not as we know it. Revolution Gallery uses an array of innovative interactive tools to bring the MOSI’s subjects to new audiences - from the UK’s largest video wall to games and digital scrapbooks.  

Housed in the world's oldest surviving passenger railway station, Revolution is pitched as an introduction to the museum’s themes of science, engineering and transport. And there’s plenty to see with exhibits including steam trains and the world’s oldest computers. Forget dusty displays in glass cases - this is a very hands-on museum. 

In keeping with the museum’s exploration of innovation, a 3D printing exhibition runs for most of September and there are frequent interactive workshops and experiments. It’s an exploration of British - and Mancunian - ingenuity pitched somewhere between white-heat technology and Wallace-and-Gromit boffinry. Only with less cheese.

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