New Museum 'Validates Liverpool As A City'
The UK's largest national museum in over 100 years has opened in Liverpool - and it is hoped the £72m project will stimulate urban regeneration in the city.
Speaking at the opening of the Museum of Liverpool, Professor Phil Redmond, chairman of National Museums Liverpool, told Sky News: "This is about cultural heritage. That's important.
"In 20 to 30 years we'll look back and think this is a fantastic investment. We know from our time as Capital of Culture in 2008 that every £1 brings back £10-12 into the local economy.
"We get 2.8 million visitors a year. There's a massive attraction and benefit to Liverpool as a tourist centre."
Arts-led regeneration has been successful in breathing life into former industrial wastelands and coastal towns.
The arrival of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 1997 and more recently, Margate's Turner Contemporary and The Hepworth in Wakefield have had a positive effect in reviving the towns' fortunes.
"You can't just build a museum or art centre and say: 'That's it, that's regeneration'," Prof Redmond added. "It's got to be a part of an overall strategy. This is just part of ours.
"To attract investors you have got to have a good cultural offer. Because we've hit austere times we probably won't see a building like this for a long, long time."
The Museum of Liverpool will provide 8,000 square metres of public space across three floors, and visitors will have access to more than 6,000 objects.
Some of the highlights include the stage where Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon first met and the first Ford Anglia off Ford's Halewood production line in 1963.
Janet Dugdale, director of the Museum of Liverpool, said: "We hope the local people feel excited about the museum and their city.
"Nationally, it validates Liverpool as a city. It's history has been like a rollercoaster. This isn't a celebratory museum, it's also about the struggles Liverpool has faced."
The museum opens as the city marks a series of cultural, social and political events, including 30 years since the Toxteth Riots, 70 years since the Liverpool blitz and the 100th anniversary of the Liverpool transport strike.
The Museum of Liverpool is funded by the North West Development Agency, European Regional Development Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the DCMS.