Recently in Liverpool's 800th Anniversary, 2007 Category

Liverpool At Christmas

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Liverpool Nativity 220x125 07.12.16 009a.jpg The few weeks as 2007 ended and became 2008 saw much festive activity in Liverpool. Here, the set for the BBC's special production of the 'Liverpool Nativity' was surrounded by excited onlookers well before the performance started, but alongside all the high technology Saint George's Hall stood serene, just as it has for the past 150 years.

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The Liverpool Nativity was a live performance commissioned by the BBC to celebrate the Christmas story in a contemporary context, as Liverpool prepared to become European Capital of Culture 2008. The set for the performance was in the open, at the bottom of William Brown Street.

Liverpool's St George's Hall, constructed between 1838 and 1854 (original architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes), is regarded as one of the finest examples of civic neoclassical architecture. Details of Hall opening times, features and events are available here.

For more photographs please see also Camera & Calendar

Sudley House, Liverpool 29 Oct. 2007 Aigburth is a long-established residential area within sight of Liverpool Cathedral. Amongst the many surprises in this enduring part of the city is the National Museum Liverpool's newly refurbished Sudley House, tucked away behind Rose Lane, Carnatic Halls and Mossley Hill Church. Bequeathed to the City by Emma Holt, daughter of a Victorian merchant, it offers a major art collection.

Mossley Hill Church, Liverpool, 1 Dec. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House veranda & conservatory, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, view to the River Mersey, the Wirral & Moel Famau, 1 Dec. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, wall & stables , 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House & Holt Field , Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House Hillsborough Memorial Garden, Liverpool 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House wallside walk, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House conservatory, Liverpool,  29 Oct. 2007

North Sudley Road looking to Liverpool Cathedral (below Sudley House & Holt Field), Liverpool, 20 Jan. 2007

Sudley House contains works by artists such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Landseer and Turner. This is the only surviving Victorian merchant art collection in Britain still hanging in its original location.

The earliest resident of the house was Nicholas Robinson, a rich corn merchant, who bought the land and built the original house somewhere between 1811 and 1823. The architect may have been Thomas Harrison. Robinson was Mayor of Liverpool in 1828-9. He lived in the house until his death in 1854, and his two daughters continued to live there until their own deaths in 1883.

Sudley was then sold to George Holt, a ship owner and merchant, who made many alterations to the property. He acquired the art collection which remains in the house, which, with its contents, was in 1944 bequeathed to the City of Liverpool by his daughter Emma.

See also: History of Liverpool

Carols Round The Christmas Tree At Sudley House

Liverpool's Ancient Chapel Of Toxteth, Dingle Gaumont Cinema, The Turner Nursing Home & Dingle Overhead Railway Station

Autumn Glory In Sefton Park

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Please see additional photographs at Camera & Calendar

More information on Sudley House and visitor arrangements is available here.

Liverpool Radio City & 08 Tower 616  93x96.jpg Abrupt curtailment of the 2007 Mathew Street Festival, silly ideas about removing fish so the docks become a concert arena, questions about preparations for the Big Year.... Liverpool 2008 is a drama unto itself. The leading arts venues have devised a pretty good cultural programme for European Capital of Culture Year, but concerns about what else needs to be done remain.

There’s a jolly good row going on in Liverpool just now.

The minority Labour Group on the City Council wants an independent review of the 2007 Mathew Street Festival – not to mention an explanation for the recent Sir Paul and the Fish fiasco - whilst the ruling LibDem Group so far appears content to receive a previewed Mathew Street report from their own officers.

Costs and concerns
This furious debate concerns the abrupt cancellation of the international Mathew Street Festival as an outdoor event, and questions about hundreds of thousands of pounds apparently expended on a now-abandoned plan to stun (and remove to claimed safety) the piscine inhabitants of one of Liverpool’s splendid docks, before draining it to create an arena for Paul McCartney’s much trumpeted appearance in the city during the 2008 European Capital of Culture year.

Given such corporate Who Dunnit dramatics, one might well ask whether professional entertainers are required at all.

Liverpool life as theatre
But of course there’s more than this to add into the ever-changing theatre which constitutes the City of Liverpool. In less than one hundred days (as I write) the momentous 2008 will be upon us.

And, to be fair, some excellent cultural events have now been announced for the year. We are to have Klimt at the Tate, Simon Rattle with the Berliner Philharmoniker (and later with the RLPO, as a member of which he began his career), adventurous programming from the Everyman and Playhouse, the Turner Prize, the Anne Frank Exhibition and much else.

It’s a huge relief that these events have been secured; many were afraid we were about to have a ‘cultureless’ European Year of Culture, with all the embarrassment that would bring.

Culture and leadership
But, perhaps as at this stage in other cities who have been through the Year of Culture experience, there remains continuing concern about how it all fits, and who’s in charge.

There seems little convincing evidence those being paid the most (who some say are departing in droves) have brought the most to the cultural agenda. That was very largely done by the individual arts organisations.

And this brings us to the big question: What’s it for? And which of our white, male hegemony of leaders is going (or able) to tell us?

Bringing in the real world
One place where we can begin to find answers is the Grosvenor (Liverpool One) development. This 17 ha mixed use site in the heart of the city centre has an investment value of £920m and will be completed in 2008. It is almost entirely privately funded and has a huge emphasis on retail and leisure.

Leading this venture is the sharply focused Rodney Holmes, a man who knows a challenge when he sees one. Unflappable and consistently approachable, Holmes is nonetheless ready when events so demand to articulate his requirements.

Recently, these demands included specific actions for the preparation of Liverpool for its year of glory (and, as it happens, the opening of the Grosvenor venture) – demands also supported by Jim Gill, the respected CEO of city-centre regeneration company Liverpool Vision, who now chairs the Countdown Group to deliver what is required.

Past or future?
Slowly, then, the cultural and commercial components of Liverpool’s future are falling into place. But it would be hard to give full credit to city leaders in all this. Rather, it feels that individual elements of the visible fabric of the city have taken things into their own hands and, in the end, just got on with it.

And this is perhaps the problem. Whilst those with vision look to the future, the official powers-that-be continue to hark on about the Beatles and Scouse (a traditional hotpot meal or a dialect, depending on context). Scouse and the Beatles are both in their different ways attractive elements of our heritage for visitors and residents alike, but can they take us forward?

Leadership and local understandings
Whilst the heritage elements of Liverpool life still resonate with many Liverpudlians, fewer feel any warmth towards the great cultural events and enterprise opportunities which 2008 presents.

There is a failure of leadership, an unwillingness to articulate ambition and opportunity, which it seems cannot be shaken off. Frequent cries by the local citizenry that ‘all this is fine, but it’s not for me’, meet only with reassurance that there will ‘also’ be things for ‘the community’ (as there surely will).

Missing is head-on challenge to the notion that excellent formal culture and serious enterprise are somehow not for ‘ordinary people’.

Involving the people
Grosvenor’s Liverpool One has a significant community engagement programme. All the flagship cultural organisations have their versions of the same. How do these fit into the greater scheme of things? Where are the cultural and entrepreneurial horizons and ambition? The missing link is our civic leaders.

There’s no longer any civic mileage in The Beatles’ When I’m Sixty Four. Paul McCartney is now older than that. And Scouse is a matter of minor gastronomic / historical interest but hardly the whole story in a city which aims through Liverpool One shortly to offer the full five stars for its more affluent cultural and business visitors.

Exclusion zones?
Whilst some in Liverpool 8 (Toxteth) still believe, or feel comfortable declaring, that the city centre is a ‘no-go’ area for people of colour, whilst those in the outer zones continue to claim total invisibility, whilst the roles of education and enterprise are seen as so irrelevant by so many, Liverpool’s resurgence remains painfully fragile.

Tempting as for some it may be to lay blame here or there for this state of affairs, blame takes us nowhere. It’s action which will do the trick.

Courage to change
We need leaders who seek out and actively nurture Liverpool’s diversity in talent and persona;
leaders who proudly proclaim they personally attend and enjoy the best of our cultural offerings formal and informal, and they want everyone else to as well;
leaders who have the courage to explain that heritage is precious but also that sometimes things need to change;
leaders who see the fit between culture and knowledge, who value Biotech and Beethoven as much as the Beatles;
and leaders, most importantly of all, who understand the fundamental difference between ‘disloyalty’ to a city and serious citizen engagement in the on-going debate.

Change of this sort cannot be achieved by default or vague sentimental aspiration. It requires deep focus, a core shift in the culture of our city. And it requires absolutely no more silliness involving, say, festival financial fiascos or stunned fish and Macca.

The cabbie is correct
One takes the views of cab drivers with a pinch of salt. But my driver yesterday was spot on. Liverpool’s buzzing at the moment, he opined. But what will it be like in 2009?

HOPES Children's Music Workshop  07.8.14 (Two boys) 125x87.jpg Summer 2007 has been a special opportunity for HOPES and Live-A-Music to provide Children's Music Workshops, thanks to generous funding from Awards for All. The workshops, held alternately in the city centre and a close-by suburb, have focused on themes developed by the children themselves - in one case, a 'symphony' featuring global warming, drifting snow, salsa / jazz and a roller-coaster! Following sessions in July and mid-August, the next workshops in the series are on Saturday 8 September in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall.

These workshops have proved a great hit with budding musicians of all sorts - players of everything from the trumpet to the triangle It's not very often that parents and children of considerable musical experience and none can come together from all around Liverpool to sing, dance and make their very own music.

Details of the 8th September sessions follow below. Here are some photographs of the workshops at Mossley Hill Church Hall , Liverpool 18, on 30/31 July, and at St. Bride's Church, Liverpool 8, on 13/14 August.

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HOPES and the Live-A-Music workshop leaders are very grateful to Awards for All, who have substantially funded these Children's / Family Music sessions.

The next workshops: when, where and how
The next two children's music workshops are scheduled for Saturday 8 September at 10.30 - 12.15 and 1 - 2.45 pm. The venue is Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Rose Lane, L18 8DB. These sessions are part of the current series of Live-A-Music workshops organised by Richard Gordon-Smith with Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage, and supported by HOPES: the Hope Street Association with generous funding from Awards for All.

Cost and conditions
The cost per child per session is just £3. Parents and other carers are welcome to accompany children and join in at no extra cost if they so wish. We ask that any children under seven are always accompanied by a parent and / or older sibling because this helps them to feel confident and happy.

Children attending both the morning and the afternoon sessions may bring a packed lunch, subject to their parents' written consent. (Specific details of conditions are here; but NB session timings have been revised at the request of parents.)

Booking and further information
Booking beforehand is appreciated because it helps with planning for the workshops, but children may simply turn up on Saturday 8th if they wish. Please email us to book places, or for further details. You are also welcome to use this email address to tell us you would like to go on the emailing list for notice of future workshop sessions.

And have fun
These children's workshops are an opportunity to explore and develop imaginations and musical skills, whatever the previous experience of music. They're for children (with their parent/s if that's wished) to enjoy and create new musical ideas, to tell stories in sound, and to have fun.

HOPES Festival logo (small) 110x116.jpg HOPES: The Hope Street Association marks the thirtieth anniversary of the inaugural Hope Street Festival with a HOTFOOT 2007 concert offering many elements of previous such events. Tayo Aluko, Tony Burrage, Richard Gordon-Smith, Sarah Helsby-Hughes, Hughie Jones, Roger Phillips and Surinder Sandhu join children from Merseyside schools and the stalwart HOPES Festival Orchestra and Choir for an event not be missed.

HOTFOOT 2007! A Street of Hope for 30 Years

Celebrating 30 years of the Hope Street Festival

Buy your tickets here.

The first Hope Street Festival took place in 1977, when Her Majesty the Queen visited Liverpool as part of her Silver Jubilee tour. There was another Festival in 1980 and then no more until HOPES: The Hope Street Association was able to resurrect the event in 1996. HOPES, with support from the Liverpool Culture Company and the Community Foundation for Merseyside, has chosen to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the inaugural Hope Street Festival with a HOTFOOT 2007 concert which incorporates many of the elements of previous such events.

Sunday 22 July 2007 @ 7 pm (please note time),
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, L1 9BP


* Roger Phillips (Presenter)

* Richard Gordon-Smith (Conductor)

* The HOPES Festival Orchestra and Choir

(Leader / Director: Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage)

and guests


Surinder Sandhu and the Saurang soloists
returning to HOPES to perform music by Surinder Sandhu (orchestrated by Richard Gordon-Smith) with the HOPES Festival Orchestra

Songs of the Sea with Hughie Jones' Jack Coutts, Kevin Bargen & Friends, featuring some of the performers who made the Mersey Shanty Festival an international success, singing shanties and sea songs from the days of the great sailing ships - the other music that Liverpool gave to the world a century before the Mersey Sound !

HOPES Festival Orchestra
performs Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Petite Suite de Concert

Sarah Helsby-Hughes (soprano) & Tayo Aluko (baritone) join the HOPES Festival Orchestra
for Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ and other songs from Porgy & Bess

Children from Merseyside schools, with the HOPES Orchestra, perform
Liverpool First and Last
which they have themselves devised for HOPES with Richard Gordon-Smith & Tony Burrage, now arranged, orchestrated and conducted by Richard Gordon-Smith

Grand finale
where the entire company performs
HOPES’ Song for Liverpool, ‘Light Up The City' (from Cool Street) by Richard Gordon-Smith.

* We are delighted that the National Trust / Chambre Hardman have also agreed to put on an exhibition in the foyer of the Phil Hall on the day. (HOPES was a major advocate of 'saving' the Chambre Hardman House, at 59 Rodnet Street, Liverpool.)

Tickets for the show
(Sun 22 July, 7 pm [please note start time]
are now available from the Phil Box office: 0151-709 3789
or via the Liverpool Philharmonic website
at £7, £9 & £11 (£5 children).

And, finally……If you would like to be involved in this concert, as a performer, singer or sponsor / raffle donor please contact us a.s.a.p. on Thank you!

HOPES is grateful to The Liverpool Culture Company and The Community Foundation for Merseyside, both of which generously provided grant-aid for this concert.

LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5134b90x73.jpg The Live-A-Music Children's Workshops on 5 April in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Liverpool 18 were action-packed, with much creative sparking between the children, musicians and 'supporting cast' of accompanying (grand) parents and younger brothers and sisters. Themes included 'Music, Myth and Magic', 'Animal Samba' and 'Symphony' - with the children also performing a work of their own.

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These Live-A-Music workshops ran during the day on Thursday 5 April 2007, in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Rose Lane, Liverpool 18. Background information about the workshops is available on this website. Further workshops are planned for the Summer school holidays.

For more details of the Summer arrangements, or to discuss how Live-A-Music can work to support your own educational / social engagement proposals, please email us.


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Yellow Lamb Banana's tail 06.8-9 072a (85x104).jpg SuperLambBanana may be kinda cute, but, made of steel and concrete and 17 feet tall, he's no lightweight. Created in 1998 by Taro Chienzo for the Art Transpennine Exhibition, he abides in Liverpool city centre, be/amusing all. He's been Friesian (black and white), pink and sometime graffitied, but 'really' he's yellow.

Super Lamb Banana (Tara Chienzo), Marybone Liverpool

See more photographs of The City of Liverpool here: Photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside;
and photographs of elsewhere, here: Camera & Calendar

Click here for more information on Super Lamb Banana, alias 'Superlambanana'.

Mersey ship from Old Hall Street Feb 2007 4069a (99x147).jpg There's much emphasis in city centre regeneration on Liverpool's waterfront. Plans for great ship visits are vital to the city's resurgence; as are plans to improve the city's road system. This photograph, taken today (7 February 2007) near St. Nicholas' Church in the business and commercial district, gives a glimpse of what may be to come.

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Liverpool%20ferris%20wheel%20%26%20tower%20%28small%29.jpgLiverpool is excitedly preparing for its big years in 2007 (the city's 800th anniversary) and 2008 (the European Capital of Culture year). With such a long and dramatic history of diaspora, who knows what the city will be like by the end of the celebrations? The scope for enterprise - both in Liverpool and by other cities and regions - to build relationships across Europe and beyond is enormous.

Liverpool%20FACT.jpgBBC Radio 3 hosted a fascinating Free Thinking event in Liverpool's FACT building last weekend, with presentations, discussions and performances by an impressively eclectic array of debaters and artists. And, perhaps appositely, the very next day the City launched its initial plans for the 2008 European Capital of Culture year.

One of the sessions at the BBC event focussed on the question, ‘Is Liverpool an English city?’. ‘Everyone in the country knows Liverpool is special – and unique,’ says the blurb, ‘but do they secretly mean it’s “unenglish"?'

Sadly, I couldn’t be at the debate, but it’s an interesting question – and one that, although I’ve lived in Liverpool for over three decades, I’d find difficult to answer. All of us have only one shot at life, so comparisons are difficult, but is it usual for people who have been resident in a place for over a third of a century still to be asked where they ‘come from’?

Ports are meeting places for the world
Working up the hill, away from the ports in the education and cultural sectors, it actually took me a while to realise that for some of my fellow citizens, Liverpool’s maritime history is the city’s autograph feature. Indeed, until the Heseltine interventions in the 1980s it was not even possible really to see much of that history. At least the reclamation of the southern docks for retail and leisure use (the Tate Gallery and Maritime Museum are situated there) helped us to see what an important port Liverpool was – and in fact still is, for freight rather than passengers.

So Liverpool is cosmopolitan in a particular way. In the mid-eighteenth century that one port was involved with 40% of the world’s trade. Liverpool is therefore home to many whose predecessors reached the city by sea, or who in some cases had intended to travel onwards, but halted when they got this far.

We have communities of several generations from the Caribbean and parts of Africa, from China (Liverpool’s China town is a large and important feature of the city) and the Indian sub-continent, who travelled from the West; and, from Eastern and Central Europe, reached us from the East. With these historic influxes has come of plethora of religious and cultural understandings – Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Orthodox and many others.

Ireland and Continental Western Europe
What is less evident in our overt cultural mix is the direct influence of Southern Europe – though it is certainly there, especially in the sometimes overarching ethos of Roman Catholicism and Southern Ireland (Eire). And then there is the strongly Protestant Orange Order influence of Northern Ireland (Ulster), whose descendants in Liverpool, like their southern counterparts, have traditionally lived siloed in tight-knit communities with little knowledge or tolerance of other ways of seeing the world.

As is well known, the clash of Southern and Northern Irish influences (Catholics ‘versus’ Protestants) was only be resolved when, in the 1980s and ‘90s, the leaders of Liverpool’s two great cathedrals (Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock) by their personal example called time on this damaging friction.

Liverpool 2007 – 800 years and proud of it
Liverpool%20cranes%209.6.06%20004.jpgGiven the particular diasporas from which Liverpool has benefited historically, it will be fascinating to see what the city can make of its opportunity to shine on the world and European stage in 2007 and 2008. There are a number of factors here, even apart from the celebrations as such, which should enhance the opportunities for Liverpool at this time - amongst them, the massive privately funded Grosvenor 'Liverpool 1' commercial development (at £950 million reputedly the largest project of this kind in Europe) which is currently taking root in the heart of the city centre.

The 2007 event will celebrate Liverpool’s 800th Anniversary. (The city’s charter was signed in 1207.) This surely is the opportunity of a lifetime to acknowledge and embrace the rich and diverse cultures and traditions of the city, to look back at our past but also forward - not only to what follows in 2008, but also much further into the future.

This is in a very real sense ‘Liverpool’s year’, a ‘birthday’ (as the locals insist on calling it) worthy of pulling out the stops. 800 years as a city, even if others can also claim it (Leeds’ charter is also dated 1207), is an important milestone.

The birthday party will be for the people of Liverpool. Others will be very welcome to join us – what’s a party without honoured guests? - but the style, the scene itself, needs to be determined by those, the citizens of Liverpool, whose 'birthday' it is.

Liverpool 2008 – European Capital of Culture
But what does Liverpool’s history mean for its year as European Capital of Culture? It has consistently been said that it was ‘the people’, Liverpudlians themselves, who won this award. Is there a danger that 2008 could be ‘more of the same’, an extension of the scenario for 2007?

If we return to our first question, is Liverpool “unenglish”?, we need to note that, so it is said, some 60% of Liverpudlians have never even been to London (and I’d guess that maybe 90% of people living in England outside the North West have as yet never been to Liverpool).

Given this situation, we must ask how many of the citizens of Liverpool so far have a real knowledge of Europe outside the influences we have already noted? How many are fluent in other European languages? How many have business or other formal connections across Europe? The answer is surely that here is a city at the start in every way of its journey into the twenty-first century.

Unique opportunity
Liverpool%20St%20George%27s%20Hall%20front.jpgLiverpool 2007 / 8 offers a unique opportunity to establish two-way connections with the city. The very next day after the BBC debate on Liverpool’s ‘englishness’ or otherwise, the city launched its initial programme for the 2008 year with a grand civic event in St. George’s Hall, and another one in London for the wider world. 2007 is for Liverpool; 2008 is intended for the world,

2008 offers business and cultural entrepreneurs from around Europe and beyond a real chance to establish themselves in the city, whilst Liverpool’s eyes are firmly fixed on the global stage – and, we hope, theirs on us.

The full extent of the outward-facing Liverpool ‘offer’ for 2007 and especially 2008 remains to be seen - there is increasing confidence that something interesting and worthwhile will be made of these unique opportunities.

The scope for inward investment, connection and synergy with elsewhere is however already established as truly enormous.

Here is a city ripe for growth of every kind, and increasingly ready to jump at the chance. This is a virtuous circle for anyone enterprising enough to recognise it.

Global players
Liverpool%20Dale%20Street%20sunlit.jpgWhether Liverpool is “unenglish” we must leave the BBC debaters to determine. Whether that same city is now positioned once again to take its place as a major player at the European and global levels we can answer for ourselves.

The answer is Yes.

And, in contrast to the last time Liverpool was a great trading city, when the odds were stacked against ‘outsiders’, this time Liverpool will be trading on an even playing field with its external partners.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This article is also published (as Liverpool: Ripe For Growth in 2007 And 2008) on the European Renaissance website.

Mount Street river vista (small) 06.10.1 078.jpg Sefton Council says Antony Gormley's Iron Men may soon leave Crosby Beach. The national Theatre Museum, which it has been mooted should come to Liverpool, has yet even to be considered by the City Council. Where's the cultural leadership and vision which could mark Merseyside as a fascinating place to visit?

Here we go again. The cultural drag, if I may call it that, which afflicts so many places is once more theatening to relegate our sub-region to the 'might have beens', a place which could have been braver and better.

In just one evening last week (on Wednesday 18th October '06) Liverpool City Council took the extraordinary decision not even to discuss a motion about how the city might acquire the national Theatre Museum, whilst on the same evening Sefton Council voted not to keep Antony Gormley's one hundred Iron Men on Crosby Beach.

There is a real danger that we on Merseyside will end up looking as though the last thing we want is to support culture, just at the time when the mantle of European Capital of Culture is about to be ours.

Time is short
The Daily Post and others have already started a campaign to reverse the Gormley statues decision, with some success already. It is now necessary for others to ensure that Liverpool Council does the same, and makes a real effort to bring the national Theatre Museum to Merseyside .... of, if they can't, for someone esle to do so The benefits of doing this are clear and have already been discussed on this website.

The reputation of Liverpool and Merseyside in 2007/8 rests on imaginative and forward-looking leadership and real vision in culture and the arts. It's time everyone in Merseyside pulled together on this.

Read more articles on the National Theatre Museum.

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