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Museum of city life is to close; Liverpool institution expected to shut down by end of year.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY SAM LISTER

THE Museum of Liverpool Life is to be closed down, probably at the end of this year, the Daily Post can reveal.

It is hoped that the museum on the city waterfront will eventually find a new home in the pounds 65m building planned for neighbouring Mann Island but that is not due to open until 2009.

National Museums Liverpool confirmed last night that the museum, which stages major exhibitions on the social history of the region, will close by next April at the latest.

It means that Liverpool will not have its social history museum available for European Capital of Culture year. The new museum, on part of the site of the defunct Fourth Grace Project, is still on the drawing board, and does not yet have planning permission.

Staff at the Museum of Liverpool Life, which opened in 1993, are meeting today to draw up plans for storage of exhibits after the shut-down.

Museum executives will meet later this month to discuss the details of the closure plan. They intend to close it because work on the neighbouring new museum is expected to begin then, making it difficult, although not impossible, for the public to access the site.

Privately, insiders expect the doors to shut on December 31, as that date coincides with the closure of many of the exhibitions currently running there.

The building alongside Albert Dock will then be turned into an administration block for museum officers working on drawing up plans for its replacement.

A source from the museum said: "Closing on December 31 is a serious option. It is logical to close it then because that is when lots of the exhibitions finish. It is expected that it will be controversial with the public as it would be at least four years until the new museum opened."

The plans for a new Museum of Liverpool at Mann Island were revealed in January after the spectacular collapse of the Fourth Grace scheme last year.

English Heritage has been involved in early talks over the 90,000sq ft design as its proposed location is within the World Heritage site, but they are expected to support it.

Around 10,000 square metres of exhibition space will be set aside for the Museum of Liverpool Life's exhibitions. The NWDA has thrown its support behind it and allocated pounds 32.7m, subject to government approval.

But it was criticised as doomed to failure by Wirral council leader Steve Foulkes who said the plans looked like they were drawn on the back of an envelope.

The building is scheduled for completion by 2008 but will not open to the public until the following year.

All but two of the Liverpool Life collections, which last year attracted 311,000 visitors, will go into storage until then.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Liverpool confirmed last night: "We are looking at a number of dates but it must be closed by April, 2006, at the latest.

"We have to decant the collections, which will take a long time.

"We are looking to start work on the site of the new museum in April. Because of the proximity of the sites, it would not be ideal to have it open to the public.

"It is not ideal to close it, obviously we want to keep it open for as long as we can.

"Two of the collections will go on display at the Maritime Museum. The Changing Face of Liverpool will be there in 2007 and Liverpool Music and Culture in 2008OPINION: PAGE 12

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A museum exhibit featuring terracing salvaged from the old Kop at Anfield
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2005
Words:609
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