Williamson Art Gallery and Wirral Museums

photograph of exterior of williamson art gallery
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Located outside the centre of Birkenhead, the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum was purpose-built and was opened in December 1928.

The building is named after John and Patrick Williamson, father and son, who each bequeathed a substantial sum of money to Birkenhead Borough Council.

The Williamson has built a strong regional reputation for the quality and variety of its exhibitions and houses the vast majority of Birkenhead's collection of art and history collections, some of which are displayed in a series of varied and well proportioned galleries.

Always on show is the largest single display of ship models in the area, focusing on Cammell Laird shipbuilders and their contribution to marine history, the Mersey Ferries and the variety of vessels that used the River Mersey when it was at its busiest.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery

Opening hours

Wednesday to Sunday 10-5pm

Admission charges


Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, World Cultures, Fine Art, Natural Sciences, Weapons and War, Science and Technology, Social History, Land Transport, Maritime

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Turner picture of Vesuvius in the Watercolour exhibition

English Watercolours

  • 18 November 2015 — 20 November 2016 *on now

The core watercolour collection at the Williamson was being built from the early 1920’s in preparation for the new gallery in 1928 and continued particularly throughout the 1930’s: an effort was made to have work by all the significant British painters in watercolour and some very exceptional pictures are included: for instance, a JMW Turner that had formerly belonged to John Ruskin.

Suitable for

  • Any age




A Room of One's Own

  • 18 November 2015 — 18 December 2016 *on now

Our year long exhibiton “A Room of One’s Own “in Gallery Four will be used throughout the year to tie in with our education provision from our learning officer, Kathy Heywood and artist in residence, Pamela Sullivan. The display is of interior paintings drawn from the Williamson’s collections, from all parts of the gallery’s life: from one purchased in 1913 to one given in 2015; prize-winners, bequests, gifts, transfers: they represent almost every way pictures come into museum collections. Over half are by artists with local connections; some by artists with international reputations, others by local students, they encapsulate in one room, the range and diversity of the Williamson’s art collection.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



Herdman of Church Road, Higher Tranmere

Herdman and the local Scene

  • 20 January — 13 March 2016 *on now

Wiliam Gawin Herdman (1805-1882) was a vigorous opponent of the Pre-Raphaelite tendency in Liverpool's Academy. He took very seriously his mission to document Liverpool as it changed into a bustling Victorian town. Herdman and his children provided the images of both Liverpool and its surroundings that informs all our preceptions of how things used to look and that provide the reference points for how it looks today.

Please note the gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm



Harold Hopps for Visit Wirral

Village Wirral

  • 27 January — 18 December 2016 *on now

Looking through the A-Z or speak to anyone in Wirral and the word “VILLAGE” crops up a lot. Wirral is often perceived as a series of village communities that still identify themselves as separate from their neighbours. This is a look through some of the Williamson’s paintings that pick out the distinctiveness of many Wirral communities.
The Williamson has many paintings by Harold Hopps (1879–1967) in the collection and several of these will be used in the exhibition. Harold Hopps spent several decades documenting the changes to the landscape around him, especially his home town of Wallasey.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Bond, Liverpool Painter of the 19th Century

Liverpool Painters of the late 19th Century

  • 3 February — 20 March 2016 *on now

The Williamson has lent extensively to the Walker Art Gallery's exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion, which focuses on a select group of Liverpool-based artists and their cutting edge Pre-Raphaelite realism. Here we show additional work by those featured artists and a group of paintings and drawings by other artists working in Liverpool at the time.



Community Patchwork Quilt

Wirral Change Community Patchwork Quilt Exhibition

  • 19 March — 1 May 2016

In early Spring 2015, Wirral Change ran a series of rag rugging classes which was later shortlisted for the Waste Prevention Award as part of the Liverpool Echo’s Environment Awards. The success of this project led to them gaining funding to create 8 community quilts, delivering sewing sessions to all of their community groups, using recycled materials. The quilts have been produced by different groups who meet at Wirral Change including the Carers’ Group, the Multicultural Women’s Group, the Thai Group, the Polish Group and the Indian Group.

Wirral Change is a Black and Racial Minorities Outreach Service offering information, advice and guidance on jobs, education, training, self-employment, health and wellbeing, as well as signposting to other services for racial minority people on the Wirral.

The organisation works in partnership with Wirral Borough Council, NHS Wirral and others. Wirral Change has demonstrated that the problem of worklessness in the black community can be effectively addressed through offering support to the community on a whole range of issues, employment-related and otherwise, and are constantly seeking new ways to make life better for those they aim to serve.



Williamson Art Gallery and Wirral Museums
Slatey Road
Birkenhead, Wirral
CH43 4UE






0151 652 4177

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.