Tag Archives: #teensinmuseums

Guest Blog: Chelsea Coates from Young Curator to Wallace Youth @WallaceMuseum

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My name is Chelsea Coates, and I am one of the former Young Curators and currently a member of Wallace Youth at Wallace Collection.

‘Wallace Youth panel giving a tour of the Wallace Collection to members of the public’

When I was chosen to help curate the Sssh…It’s a Secret exhibition I began to appreciate art in a completely different way. Although I had always admired the craftsmanship that went into the artworks that I had seen on previous gallery visits, after becoming a Young Curator I began to develop a deeper understanding of art, seeing artefacts as portals into historical worlds instead of only appreciating them on a superficial level. I came to realise that each object had an intriguing story waiting to be discovered, whether it was hidden in the symbolism of the painting itself or in the context of when and why it was made – and I wanted to unearth them all.

Being a member of Wallace Youth has given me an insight into the world behind the scenes at museums, through informative talks from several curators and staff members from the various departments at the Wallace from publicity to conservation. This has given me a completely different perspective on museums and even made me consider working in one in the future. I have also gained skills in other areas such as photography and film editing due to my involvement in creating a video on the recent exhibition ‘The Middle’ and I have learnt more about how to decipher the imagery in paintings through a short Art History course last summer. Most of all, this experience has given me confidence: we were always encouraged to deliver speeches at certain events, to lead guided tours and to take an active role in organising and improving current events at the Collection from summer holiday workshops to the Youth Private View event for the exhibition ‘The Middle’.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given such a unique opportunity and I have so many fond memories of my time here that it almost feels like a second (much larger and more exquisite) home! I believe museums should be places where people of all ages and backgrounds feel welcomed and the Wallace Collection has managed to achieve this: my experiences here have not only reinforced this belief but have made it a reality for me and all the other young people I have shared this wonderful journey with. I will miss not being able to visit the Wallace Collection as regularly for a while, and I must admit, I am slightly envious of the young people just beginning their experience here. They are about to embark on a journey that they will never forget, which will give them valuable skills but above all a newfound appreciation and lifelong love of art. As I move into the next stage of my education, I know that I will bring these invaluable qualities along with me.

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Teen Twitter Takeover with @KidsinMuseums and @HornimanMuseum

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Last August over 50 cultural and heritage organisations across the UK handed their twitter feeds over to teenagers. Teen Twitter Takeover happened in museums, archives, galleries, castle, historic homes and more. All of these venues offered young people a chance to be Social Media Managers – a role that is usually reserved for adults.

Here’s how one teenager from The Horniman Museum as Gardens approached it with emojis.

Last year, the youth panel had the chance to be involved with Teen Twitter Takeover, and our immediate thought was to try and come up with an idea for the day which was really accessible, fun for everyone involved and appealed to other young people – which lead us to dedicate the entire day to one thing: emojis. People would tweet emojis at us, then we would run around the museum and gardens trying to track down and photograph the real life equivalent. It was an exhausting day (especially when someone tweeted a rabbit found in the garden one minute, and a fish from the aquarium the next!) but our idea got a great response on Twitter and we all had a lot of fun doing it. Continue reading →

Guest Blog by Karan from Florence Nightingale Museum Young Panel

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This is a guest blog written by Karan Ishii about her time at Florence Nightingale Museum as part of the youth panel this summer

100_0052This summer, I had the privilege and pleasure to be a member of the Florence Nightingale Museum Youth Panel in London. Having moved to England the summer before, I had decided to make whatever positive contribution I could give to local organizations. The Panel consisted of myself and two other girls as well as our supervisor, Ms. Stephanie Tyler. As a team, we developed a project for the Kiss of Light Exhibit in the museum, which highlights the role of nurses in light therapy in 20th century Britain. The exhibit, which ends October 23, 2015, tells of the use of sun sanctuaries and direct light therapy to combat diseases and illnesses.

For our project, we had a number of options in terms of angles we could take on this subject. In the end, we decided on educating our target audience of teens about the effects of sun on health through writing passages for a booklet, blog, and infographic. This was our first time working on a campaign and it was a really great experience learning of the workings of a museum especially the behind the scenes work. Hameda and Lydia participated with the Kids in Museums Twitter Takeover day, where they tweeted our journey through our project while educating the public of sun safety.

100_0062During one meeting, panel member Lydia and I worked with poet Simon Barraclough, who wrote Sunspots, in a poetry workshop. The result was a compilation poem that personifies the sun as insistent and loud in mornings but also bitterly considers cloudy, English days where the sun is no where to be seen. I am very proud of our poem, as I have previously had a slight distaste for poetry, but truly enjoyed composing this particular poem.

The lasting part of being a part of the youth panel was enjoying meeting and working with people that I most definitely would not have met had I not decided to join the panel. It was wonderful making new friends and making the small difference that we could and fascinating to learn about Florence and her impact today. With a steady supply of Starburst as our fuel, we plowed through research and came out proud to have been a part of an amazing team!

To see a blog post by panel member Hameda, please visit https://florencenightingalemuseum.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/summer-at-the-florence-nightingale-museum/ 

The Florence Nightingale Museum
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Part #4 Reflective Essay: Teen Ambassador @nmafateens

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Continuation of Teen Ambassadors Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Guest Post

Amyra Demonstrating Project Math FestNote: This post was written by Amyra Hasan, a student in the Teen Ambassadors Program, to fulfill the requirements of her capstone project for the “International Studies and Law” academy that she is enrolled in. It is a reflective essay about her experiences during the training portion of the Teen Ambassadors Program.

For most people, Africa began when the Europeans decided that the continent was merely a meal they could slice and take for themselves with no regard to the millions of rich and proud people living there. They devoured Africa, ravaged it, and had the audacity to blame its poor condition on the people themselves. For a lot of people now, Africa and black America is still perceived that way. I, as an Asian, have virtually no ties to this continent. I, as an American, could have easily swallowed this imperialist narrative, the product of a Eurocentric education system, without thinking critically about it and moved on with my life. The problem is that I choked on it.

I could not accept this so passively. Africa is the cradle of humanity; surely it couldn’t be as simple as this right? I kept this idea tucked away in the back of my mind as I refocused on getting through the end of junior year. Afterwards, it came up again as I was considering my career path and my future college plans. I had my heart set out to be a humanitarian working to improve the lives of people in less developed countries like Indonesia, my own country. So far, I joined an International Studies and Law program, but I needed something more concrete. I needed something that would give me firsthand experience with different cultures other than my own, something that would simultaneously aid in developing practical skills and broaden my worldview.

Working as a teen ambassador for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art not only fit all of these requirements exactly, but it also answered these burning questions I had about Africa. I gained confidence when I gained friends in such a short span of time. I developed my social skills as I slowly got to work more and more with the public. I came home with newfound passion that I realized I hadn’t felt in years: talking excitedly about everything that happened that day, feeling satisfied and productive as I watched those previously empty weekend hours fill up quickly with schedules.

Even though the artistic aspect of the program was not initially my main interest, I realized art is much more valuable than what most people, including me, give it credit for. Art can be a conversation starter into deeper issues about society, which is precisely what I plan to do as a humanitarian and advocate. I may not work specifically with African countries in the future, but it was especially during this experience I vowed to do my best to bring awareness to the hundreds of diverse societies living inside it. I want to show people that Africa is not one monolithic culture ravaged by disease and poverty, but it is just as capable as anyone else of producing unique and beautiful art. On a general level, I want to show people that all art is equally beautiful and equally valuable, just as all people are.

This is really what extracurricular opportunities, such as the Teen Ambassadors Program, strive to achieve. As Americans, we don’t realize the enormous amount of privilege we have. Our public education system teaches to standardized test after standardized test, leaving no room to learn to appreciate the world for how it is and to learn how to make it a better place. By experiencing Teen Ambassadors as an extracurricular program, I learned that practical experience is just as crucial to being a well-rounded person as a classroom education. I refuse to be passive about the ideas I consume. Like getting nervous before a tour, I must learn to hold it down and speak with conviction, to take an active role in my life so I can help other people do the same in theirs.

 

Part #3: More Lessons Learned and Big Questions from Case Study @nmafateens

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We’ve been quiet on the Teens in Museum blog about the Teen Ambassadors Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy. Quite the contrary! It’s been a busy few weeks for our Teen Ambassadors, as we launched into the nitty-gritty of training: learning the building blocks for a tour. In the meantime, we’ve also had the opportunity to provide our students with special opportunities, such as the chance to attend the press preview and opening for the Divine Comedy exhibition, and a chance to sit down with our head of Public Affairs and chief librarian to discuss a range of careers available in museums.

Over the past few weeks, our Teen Ambassadors were ask to select two artworks in our Conversations exhibit that they loved, and then respond to these pieces. They then researched these artworks and pieces, and then gave a five-minute talk in the public galleries on their findings. After we gave the students feedback, each student chose a partner whose selected artworks corresponded with his or her pieces. The students then worked on discussing comparisons between the pieces and elarning their partner’s works. These pieces will be the building blocks of their tours. Our work with the students over the last few weeks has provided us with several “lessons learned” and reflective opportunities.

Lesson #1: Get all relevant medical information from your program participants.
One of our participants has a reoccurring medical condition that occurred while at our program. Although it was not serious, we had no prior knowledge on this condition, or on any other medical conditions or allergies that the students have. From this incident, we learned that we have to collect documentation on any medical conditions or special needs that might affect our programming. For future teen programs, we plan on beginning with a parent meeting, where we will provide confidential worksheets for parents to fill out regarding medical conditions and other information. It seems obvious in hindsight, but in our rush of planning curriculums and envisioning a program, we overlooked this basic step, and we definitely learned a lesson we won’t for’et.

Lesson #2: Provide specific guidelines about what we want from the teens.
When we assigned the students “Interpretive Challenge” research assignments on two artworks that they selected from the Conversations exhibit, they were the five-minute gallery presentation we wanted them to develop. While the student presentations on a whole were really good, the students’ research was not as rigorous as we’d have liked to have seen. Our “Interpretive Challenge” activity was modified from an exercise completed by our adult docents. Many of our adult docents have advanced degrees and intensive experience in the art world, so when we tell them to “research a piece of art”, they more or less know to draw a broad context around the piece. When we asked kids to do this, they provided really rich interpretations based on their observations and own worldviews, but some of their readings lacked in artist biographies, theme of the exhibitions, and art historical context. While we did some research on our own to add some facts to these pieces, we’d like the kids to do this research in the future. To do this, we realize we need to ask our kids to answer very specific questions in their research (such as “give three facts about the artist”). For our first round of Teen Ambassadors, we helped write up some additional research and interpretation for them, but this led us to grapple with our educational philosophy and led to our first big question, which we think might be shared by anyone doing a basic program.

Big Question: How much of the tour should be generated by us, and how much should be generated by the kids?
We have a great group of kids; they make great observations when given the chance to closely look at art and objects, they are wonderful storytellers, and they aren’t afraid to let their personalities shine through when talking about art. It was a highlight of our program to give them a chance to research and study pieces and take some ownership over their pieces, and then have a chance to teach their peers about these pieces. However, there are certain basics that we believe that every gallery experience facilitated at NMAfA should include, and certain contexts that we as interpreters should pass on to audiences who are familiar with art but may be new to non-Western art. At the same time, we don’t want our students to be reading off a script. So how to balance? We’ve been experimenting with scripting certain elements of the student’s tours—introductions and conclusions, for example, which we’ve noticed that any new docent or educator may struggle with—and we’ve given them additional facts to sprinkle through the gallery. It’s still a give-and-take process as we experiment with what works and what doesn’t, so we look forward to thinking more on that in the next few weeks.

Lesson #3: Spend as much time as possible in the galleries.
Many of our early sessions were held in our executive conference room, but I realized when the students were giving their gallery presentations that they seemed much more relaxed in the conference rooms than they did in the galleries. As it’s Cherry Blossom season in DC, the past few weeks have been really crowded with tourists. Couple that with some really sensitive alarms in the gallery, it’s no wonder that the galleries are unfamiliar and a bit scary to the kids (honestly, during the Cherry Blossom Festival, the galleries are a bit scary to me!) Our last session was spent almost entirely in the galleries however, and I realized the need of being in the galleries as much as possible in the future. I like to think of learning as one of the more elevated blocks on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In order for learning to happen, the more basic needs—comfort, security, etc—need to be met. By providing kids the opportunity just to hang out and be themselves in the gallery, we are building their comfort levels so they can properly study and learn the artworks. They’ll then be able to convey that to the audiences that they’ll start working with in the next month.

Speaking of the future, we’re onto recruiting for a summer class of Teen Ambassadors! Reflecting as part of the Teens in Museums blog has been very beneficial for my own program planning, and I look forward to having the chance to implement my own lessons learned.

Photos:Teens at Press Preview

We’ve been trying to expand the range of opportunities available to our Teen Ambassadors by tapping them into other Museum events. Here, Teen Ambassadors Nick and Emily attended the press preview for The Divine Comedy. Emily writes for her school’s newspaper, and will write an article about her experiences. Both had the opportunity to mingle with museum staff, artists, and professional journalist.

Julia presents in the gallery.
Julia Gallery Presentation

Amyra, Emily and Nick after the press preview.
Nick Emily Amyra

From the Underground Up: Building a Teen Docent Program at Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art @nmafateens

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Please note: We are please to announce Alli Hartley will be sharing an on-going series of post on what it is like to set up a Teen Docent program.  We hope this inspires conversations so please feel free to leave comments or tweet @nmafateens or us at @teensinmuseums

By:Alli Hartley is the Teen Ambassador Programs Intern

This spring at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, I have been tasked with building a “Teen Ambassador Program” for teens to volunteer with us throughout the museum. For those who are unfamiliar with us, the National Museum of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Our mission is to inspire conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of African arts and cultures worldwide. We’re excited this spring to provide teens with the tools to promote cross-cultural understandings of Africa among our museum audiences.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 5.40.21 PMThe program launches Saturday February 28th , and the teens will participate in various trainings on weekends during the spring, before giving special teen tours to groups of other teens and eventually the general public in the early summer. The teens will also interact with the public by facilitating art carts. Teen Ambassadors will study artworks in our collection, but they will also have a chance to learn gallery teaching techniques used by museum educators worldwide. We will give our Ambassadors the opportunity to learn more about careers in the arts through interactions with museum staff across a range of departments as well as staff in other Smithsonian institutions. These interactions will include “meet the museum” sessions, during which staff from departments within our museum discuss their projects and careers, and cross-trainings with teen programs at other Smithsonian museums. Our anticipated outcomes include building leadership skills for the teens that can be applied to future careers both inside and outside of the arts, as well as unique exposure to art and -art-related career options.

Continue reading →

Engaging Young People: Top Tips for Starting a Youth Panel @GeffryeYouth

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By Eileen Gbagbo, member of the Geffrye Museum Youth Advisory Panel

photo 8On Monday 6th October 2014, I and 5 other members of the Geffrye  Museum’s youth programme and Youth Advisory Panel, also known as the ‘YAP’, co-led the Kids in Museums  ’Starting a Youth Panel’ workshop in order to give our opinions on the Youth Panels, like what makes them successful and how they are run, etc. I volunteered to speak at the workshop, because I have really enjoyed being part of the YAP and I do believe that organisations such as museums, that aren’t exactly associated with or appealing to young people, should have something along the lines of a youth panel in order to break the stereotype. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this workshop.

Before this event, the YAP had created the ’10 Top Tips for Starting a Youth Panel’ booklet. This is meant to be a tool designed to help anyone who is thinking about starting up a youth panel realise the important elements from the young people’s perspective.  The tips ranged from making sure that there was enough food at every meeting to making sure everyone put ideas forward, but in my opinion, the most important ‘Top Tip’ to me was about having unique opportunities within the museum or youth panel so that members could feel rewarded for their contribution. Our booklet was very eye-catching and informative at the same time; you can read it here.

photo 11The workshop started at 1pm, but we met at 12 o’clock just to run over some last-minute things. When the guests had arrived, we and the Kids in Museums staff introduced ourselves and all of the delegates took it in turn to say their name and where they’re from. Next, with the help of Vanessa (Young People’s Programme Coordinator at the Geffrye), we then spoke about each of the ‘Ten Top Tips’ in some detail and explained why we felt they were important in running and setting up a youth panel. After this daunting task, which seemed to take forever, we then sat at a table each in order to talk to those on the table and answer any of their queries.  Then it was the Kids in Museums’ infamous ‘Five Minute Blasts’. This involved 5 speakers, who have had experience with different youth groups, speaking for 5 minutes.  All the participants were then encouraged to write any questions they had on post-it notes, which were then sorted into different categories during the break.  After the coffee break, the delegates then sat on the table with the category which they were most interested in. YAP members sat on each of the tables and answered as many questions as possible. This was really interesting as we really engaged with the guests as they were really interested in running youth panels.  Afterwards, the participants wrote themselves a promise on a postcard which the Kids in Museums staff will post to them soon as a reminder.  Then we all filled in evaluation cards and the event ended around 4.30.

At the event, I learnt a lot of interesting things about youth panels, especially about the financial aspects. Its very hard for museums to get money to fund youth panels, so we talked about possible fundraising opportunities and ways to save money. Overall, speaking at the event helped my confidence and gave me the chance to speak about something quite important to me. Being part of the Geffrye YAP has given me many opportunities and has helped me grow in confidence and skills such as time management and planning and supporting large-scale events. Earlier this year, I also had the opportunity to complete a Silver Arts Award, and through that I have gained a lot of creative skills and arts knowledge.

 

Teens present ‘Sores, Spores & Sickly Bugs’ at Centre of the Cell @CentreoftheCell

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DSC00006On Tuesday 5th August, a group of 14-18 year olds from across East London came together at Centre of the Cell  to present ‘Spores, Sores & Sickly Bugs’, an exciting new workshop for families about the medical history of the East End. Since October 2013 the group, who are part of Centre of the Cell’s Youth Membership, have been busy conducting research, developing their ideas and creating a set of hands-on workshop stations, resulting in a performance that is entertaining as well as educational.

Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund provided the young people with the opportunity to conduct research in a number of different and exciting ways. They visited the Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives, helped host a lecture on the history of drugs and even took a historical tour of Whitechapel to investigate its hidden medical mysteries. They also enjoyed training with the Head of Learning and Project Coordinator to develop practical workshop leading skills, and visited the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Wellcome Collection to find out more about medical and history collections and interpretation.

DSC00030As a result of their research, the young people selected four aspects of medical history they found particularly interesting, and each was used to create a station for the workshop: ‘Anaesthetics’, ‘Children & Disease’, ‘Equipment & Antisepsis’, and ‘Disease & the East End’. Scripts were written, props were made and presentations were rehearsed in time for testing the workshop with families from the local area at the Watney Market Idea Store. Some further refining resulted in stations that were fun and informative. Members of the audience, both young and old, left with a deepened understanding and enthusiasm for medical history. After delivering workshops onsite over the Easter 2014 school holidays, the team trained a new group of 14 – 18 year olds to deliver the workshop over the Summer 2014 school holidays.

IMG_2475Despite being a little nervous, the group delivered a fantastic workshop, leaving the young members of the project with a sense of accomplishment and pride. They described the experience as ‘challenging but so much fun’, and they all gained a deeper understanding of what is involved in organising event and working with a team, as well as developing their communication and presentation skills. They had to work together overcome issues such as time constraints and audience members talking over them, and as a result they developed new friendships and met a huge variety of people, which they described as ‘exciting and a completely unique experience’. The group can’t wait to repeat the show in the coming week: ‘Spores, Sores & Sickly Bugs’ will be delivered again at Centre of the Cell on Thursday 7th and Tuesday 12th August 2014.

To book a place for one of these workshops, please visit http://centreofthecell.eventbrite.co.uk/

To find out more about Centre of the Cell’s ‘Sores, Spores & Sickly Bugs’ project, and the read the website content the young people created, visit http://www.centreofthecell.org/centre/?page_id=352&ks=3.

 

 

Guest Post: Reasons to be Silly by Angharad Bullward

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can be a serious person, honest. I have had my museum blog for nearly two years and I have written about a wide range of topics including; reviewing historic sites, discussing the latest development in the sector, recording my own archival research and how I would run my fictional castle(Ok the last one was a bit silly).  My most read post to date is about a subject that is very close to heart of many people I know; the state of the job market in the cultural sector. Nearly 150 people completed my survey that illustrated the difficulties in securing employment in a very competitive sector that contradictory offers extraordinary job satisfaction.

In complete contrast, my second most read post to date is one entitled ‘10 things everyone thinks when they go to a museum.’ An entry that consists mainly of photos of things I think at museum and only took a mere fraction of time to write compared to the Career Survey. It features serious questions as ‘Am I too old to dress up?’ and ‘Didn’t they film that show here?’ I have yet to come across anyone that disagrees with this, which is somewhat reassuring.

I don’t know how prevalent the idea that museums are stuffy old buildings filled with boring ancient exhibitions is anymore. It isn’t my area of museum expertise but the post was meant to show the lighter side of the heritage sector. I am not always thinking about that when I visit as there are museums I been to that deal with sensitive subjects where such thoughts never cross my mind. I didn’t also include comments that pop up as someone who works in museums and has a degree in Heritage Management  as they were a bit too niche (they included spotting typos in interpretation and comments on queue managing systems – exciting yes?).

I have really enjoyed the feedback on this and it’s great to have struck a chord. I know I haven’t really explained the ‘Reasons to be silly’, the title of this post but surely the whole point of being silly is not to conform to such traditional expectations.

 So if you see a tallish women with long curly hair in her mid-twenties eyeing up the dressing up clothes in a museum, there is a pretty high likelihood it’s me. Care to join?

Angharad Bullward, can often be found getting overexcited in a variety of heritage sites and museums throughout the United Kingdom. On her blog, she documents her recent trips and musings, attempting to engage people with heritage regardless of whether they regularly go to museums or not.  

What is Dig It! 2015? @DigIt2015

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digitWhat is Dig It! 2015?
This is going to be a year-long, country-wide celebration of Scottish archaeology, run on behalf of the heritage sector by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland

There is already a lot planned for next year and we are compiling an exciting programme of events drawn from a whole range of organisations (we are taking a very holistic approach to what is considered ‘archaeology’!).

Why are we doing it?
We want as many people as possible to find out about archaeology and to contribute to the big story of Scotland’s past.  This is a past and story which belongs to all of us, and the events and programmes which run through the year will provide people with a range of activities from theatre performances to exhibitions, open days and discovery sessions, so that as wide a range of Scotland’s population can get involved.

What can you do?
We are especially looking for events that actively involve 16-24 year olds, whether that’s those who are in school, college or university or a local youth or scout group.  This part of the programme is still in development, so we are looking for ideas, as well as organisations and groups who want to be involved.

You might have an idea about putting on an archaeology activity or you might just want to be kept informed of events in your area where you could go along and find out more.  We are especially keen to get people out to actually visit sites and places of historical/archaeological interest, and to take some time to explore the heritage around them.

Whatever your interest, if you would like to be involved, then please take a look at our website www.digit2015.com for more information get in touch with your ideas!

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