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Museums Mean Business: Merseyside Maritime Museum Hosts Entrepreneurial Cultures in European Cities Conference

LIVERPOOL.- Members of museums and cultural organisations from across Europe will visit Liverpool next week to recognise the importance of entrepreneurs and small businesses in Europe, including Liverpool’s own Smithdown Road.

National Museums Liverpool is hosting the Entrepreneurial Cultures in European Cities Conference (ECiEC) at Merseyside Maritime Museum on 6 and 7 July following the successful "Secret Life of Smithdown Road" project launched in September 2009.

"The Secret Life of Smithdown Road" is one of many similar projects to be facilitated by the EU-funded scheme, and the conference will mark a conclusion and opportunity for 50 colleagues from partner organisations and local Liverpool institutions to explore the research and results.

Renée Kistemaker senior consultant for research and development at Amsterdam Historical Museum said: “The project has involved ten museums and cultural organisations from eight European countries, and explored for the very first time the potentials of small and medium-sized businesses – many of whom have an immigrant background – in contributing to an emerging vibrant European society.”

National Museums Liverpool’s "Secret Life of Smithdown Road" project was aimed at exploring how, over time, local shopkeepers have helped shape the south Liverpool neighbourhood. It will culminate in an exhibition within the new Museum of Liverpool.

The Museum of Liverpool team undertook historical research of the area utilising newspapers, trade and street directories, maps and old photographs to discover how the road has changed. They also worked with local photographer Stephanie de Leng to capture the essence of Smithdown Road as it is today, producing a mini-exhibition in local café Oomoo, that worked retrospectively alongside old images of the road.

Kay Jones, curator of community history said: “When starting the project, like many of our partner organisations’ projects, we didn’t realise how successful and popular it would be amongst the local and wider community.

“Smithdown Road is home to many different vibrant and diverse communities, and a temporary home for a large number of students from Liverpool’s three universities. It holds a special place in people’s hearts and memories, and this is reflected in the huge number of people who have joined our Facebook group to share their Smithdown stories.

“Over 2,100 people have joined to date, and the group has been fundamental in our research to collect present day and historical information including images of the area to reveal how it has changed over the years, particularly in terms of its shops and local businesses.”

The project has resulted in a collection of lively case studies of local projects like the "Secret Life of Smithdown Road" revealing the different methods applied, and the intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange and discussions involved.

Renée Kistemaker continues: “The project has been very stimulating and exciting for the entrepreneurs and museums alike, as local projects have brought communities together and allowed museums to engage with new audiences and add to their collections. It’s been great to work with our partners from across Europe, learn from each other and build relationships that will last for many years to come.”

During the two-day conference at Merseyside Maritime Museum, participants will visit the Smithdown Road area, and have a drinks reception at Oomoo Café. The conference will also mark the launch of the website, DVD and book associated with the project.

National Museums Liverpool | Entrepreneurial Cultures in European Cities Conference | Renée Kistemaker |

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