32 of Europe’s Absolute Best Museums for 2017

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It’s here and it’s better than ever – explore Europe’s best museums.

 

This list boasts the best and brightest of historical and educational experiences, concocted to perfect your European adventures. Heighten your understanding of its countries’ pasts, presents, and futures, as remembered and glorified by world-famous art, towering architecture, the sciences, and testimonials and artifacts that bring history to life.

 

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Your time in Europe is likely short and limited – so soak in the full cultural experience of these unique and riveting locations. Read on to find the best fit, or seven, for you and your travel crew. We believe local museums are one of the best parts of traveling – so the museum should match the feat.

 

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Here are the best 32.

 

National War Museum at Fort St Elmo - Valletta, Malta 2

 

War-Themed Museums

1.In Flanders Field  |  2. National War Museum | 3. The Museum of Genocide Victims  |  4. 101st Airborne Museum ‘Le Mess” Bastogne  | 5. Swedish Air Force Museum  |  6. National Army Museum  |  7. Imperial War Museum London  |  8. Mémorial de la Shoah  | 9. Museum of the Second World War  | 10. German Spy Museum

Art Museums

1. Leopold Museum  |  2. Kunsthaus Zurich   |  3. The Museum of Contemporary Art  |  4. The British Museum | 5. Musee Cognacq-Jay | 6. Kroller-Muller Museum  | 7. Kumu Art Museum | 8. National Cinema Museum

Culture Museums

1. Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences |  2. Musee du Quai Branly  |  3. Epic – The Irish Immigration Museum | 4. Swiss Musuem of Transport  | 5. Amsterdam Museum | 6. British Motor Museum | 7. ASTRA Museum  |  8. Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center  | 9. Romanian Peasant National Museum | 10. The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow | 11. Belvue Museum   | 12. National Maritime Museum | 13. Archaeological Museum of Pella | 14. Church and Museum of the Infant Jesus

 

 

War-Themed Museums

 

1. In Flanders Field  

 

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Location: Leper, Belgium

Starting Prices: 9 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The In Flanders Field Museum is a compelling representation of World War 1 from the perspective of the West Flanders front lines, centered on human emotion, contemporary landscapes that are haunted by the war’s history, and the resounding social commentary on the universality of war that has perpetuated the despair and hatred of World War 1 into the future, reminiscent of the past. In collaboration with the Ypres City of Peace, In Flanders Field remains hopeful of a more peaceful future.

Find out more about the In Flanders Field Museum here.

 

 

2. National War Museum

 

National War Museum at Fort St Elmo - Valletta, Malta 1

Location: Valetta, Malta 

Starting Prices: $12USD

What To Explore:

 

The Fort St. Elmo National War Museum is one of the Heritage Malta museums, known for its fascinating glimpse into life and history of Malta. Take a ride far back to the Bronze Age of 2,500 BC to understand the inventions and course of history that propelled Malta through the Great Siege Period WWI, and WWII. Wander through the halls of the Piazza D’Armi and immerse yourself in this educational experience.

For more information, visit National War Museum here.

 

 

3. The Museum of Genocide Victims

The fingerprinting and photography room

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania 

Starting Prices: 4 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The Museum of Genocide Victims is a fascinating, once-in-a-lifetime experience to explore the former KGB palace where the Soviets plotted their offenses. Including a prison where the death penalty was enacted, this location marked great injustices against Lithuanian people from 1940-1991. Its chilling story is told through interchanging exhibitions, permanent expositions, and virtual exhibitions.

For more information, visit The Museum of Genocide Victims here.

 

 

4. 101st Airborne Museum “Le Mess” Bastogne

 

 

Location: Bastogne, Belgium

Starting Prices: 8 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Experience firsthand what it was like to be a soldier or family in the time of World War 2 in a building that was originally a hospital of the Red Cross. “Le Mess” Bastogne was the site of the Battle of the Bulge, recreated at this historical site. From a soldier’s tour, to a walk around a hospital caring for the wounded, to the experience of hiding in a bomb shelter with a Belgian family, you will capture a greater understanding of this period’s great tension and fear.

For more information, visit 101st Airborne Museum “Le Mess” Bastogne here.

 

 

5. Swedish Air Force Museum

COPYRIGHT fotograf Göran Billeson BILLESON BILDER AB
Photo credit: Göran Billeson BILLESON BILDER AB

Location: Likoping, Sweden

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

The Fly G Vapen Museum features chilling exhibits, such as the DC-3 that disappeared, the story of Sweden during the heightened tensions of the Cold War, and an inside look at animals in the war. The focus of the museum is the development of Sweden’s Air Force aviation from the beginning to date. It is a part of the National Museum of Defense History.

All boys ages 7-16 are welcome. For more information, visit the Swedish Air Force Museum here.

 

 

6. National Army Museum

Army gallery graphic (c) National Army Museum

Location: London, United Kingdom

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

The National Army Museum features the best stories and collections from the British Army’s history. From exhibits on women’s role in the British armies to collections called “war paint” to vulnerable exposes of how the soldiers dealt with the great fear and pain, the museum experience is emotional and riveting. But, its core value is the connection of people and stories, and it does just this in a powerful way.

For more information, visit the National Army Museum here.

 

 

7. Imperial War Museum London

 

Location: London, United Kingdom

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

The Imperial War Museum London is one of the five Imperial War museums in the United Kingdom, expressing the stories and struggles of the people of London since World War 1. Free and open to the public, this experience will grant you deeper insights about life in London in the past century, to today’s unique conflicts, such as Syria and the War on Terror.

For more information, visit the Imperial War Museum London here.

 

 

8. Mémorial de la Shoah

 

 

Location: Paris, France

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

The Shoah Memorial is symbolic of a bridge that occurred between Europe and European Jews, representing the end of genocide and beginning of peace. The memorial was created to tell the story of the great suffering of the Jews and how this peace was bartered for – and, in the words of the president, to construct a “rampart against oblivion”. Visit for a lecture, peruse the bookshop, and experience this “transmission of knowledge” at the documentation center.

For more information, visit the Mémorial de la Shoah here.

 

 

9. Museum of the Second World War

 

Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Starting Prices: 7 Euros

What To Explore:

 

14 meters underground you’ll find Poland’s Museum of the Second World War, which provides chilling stories and artifacts from the Polish experience in WWII. Better understand the road to the war, Poland’s role in the turn of events, and how it all transpired through series of photographs and video evidence.

For more information, visit the Museum of the Second World War here.

 

 

10. German Spy Museum

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Location: Berlin, Germany

Starting Prices: 12 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Have you ever wanted to be a spy? Indulge yourself in the fascinating history of Germany at the time of the Berlin Wall and the espionage on either side. Employ technology to crack the code yourself. This highly interactive museum boasts jaw-dropping stories from German spies and a laser maze – just like in the movies – that you get to navigate through. Often called the “gloom of espionage”, this former period of fear can be relived in a lighter, more entertaining manner. Learn the history as you play.

For more information, visit the German Spy Museum of Berlin here.

 

Jump To Any Museum By Clicking Here:

War-Themed Museums

1.In Flanders Field  |  2. National War Museum | 3. The Museum of Genocide Victims  |  4. 101st Airborne Museum ‘Le Mess” Bastogne  | 5. Swedish Air Force Museum  |  6. National Army Museum  |  7. Imperial War Museum London  |  8. Mémorial de la Shoah  | 9. Museum of the Second World War  | 10. German Spy Museum

Art Museums

1. Leopold Museum  |  2. Kunsthaus Zurich   |  3. The Museum of Contemporary Art  |  4. The British Museum | 5. Musee Cognacq-Jay | 6. Kroller-Muller Museum  | 7. Kumu Art Museum | 8. National Cinema Museum

Culture Museums

1. Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences |  2. Musee du Quai Branly  |  3. Epic – The Irish Immigration Museum | 4. Swiss Musuem of Transport  | 5. Amsterdam Museum | 6. British Motor Museum | 7. ASTRA Museum  |  8. Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center  | 9. Romanian Peasant National Museum | 10. The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow | 11. Belvue Museum   | 12. National Maritime Museum | 13. Archaeological Museum of Pella | 14. Church and Museum of the Infant Jesus

Art Museums

 

1. Leopold Museum

Frau vor Tod u Leben

Location: Vienna, Austria

Starting Prices: 13 Euro

What To Explore:

 

The Leopold Museum is home to the birth of modernity – up close, personal, almost touchable. Its nearly 5,000 pieces were collected over the span of 50 years by Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold. Focused on the Austrian interwar period, the art of the Habsburg era features Mood impressionism and historicism featuring notable authors such as Koloman Moser, Oskar Kokoschka, and Gustav Klimt. After wandering the great Austrian history, enjoy a cup of coffee at the Cafe Leopold.

For more information, visit the Leopold Museum here.

 

 

2. Kunsthaus Zurich

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Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Starting Prices: 15 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The Kunsthaus in Zurich offers a great diversity of art to see – from Swiss painting, Italian baroque painting, a video art collection, and 95,000 images in their graphic collection. Exhibits are featured on a monthly basis, and are as unique as they are compelling: such as the Cantastorie, featuring a large central stage for a concert and theatre production.

For more information, visit the Kunsthaus Zurich here.

 

 

3. The Museum of Contemporary Art

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Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

The Museum of Contemporary Art displays a diversity of artistic mediums, from drawings by Milan Steiner, to media art, to sculptures and paintings. Marvel at the Archive Toso Dabac which features over 200,000 negatives from photos taken by Tosa Dabac and the Silvan Seissel art collection that was donated to the museum by the city of Zagreb.

For more information, visit The Museum of Contemporary Art here.

 

 

14. The British Museum

 

Location: London, United Kingdom

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

The British Museum highlights important social issues, such as LGBTQ rights, India’s great shrine, and the work of Arab artists, to name a few. This commitment to celebrating diversity, in tandem with its list of daily events and workshops, makes it a must-see if you’re in or around London. Travel activity trails, indulge in family activities and try your own artistic hand with free art supplies.

For more information, visit The British Museum here.

 

 

5. Musee Cognacq-Jay 

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Location: Paris, France

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

Make sure to visit the absolutely gorgeous Musee Cognacq-Jay, with art collections donated by the late Ernest Cognacq, which represent the Enlightenment era of the 18th century. Ogle at pieces from paintings to decorative art to furniture and sculptures. You’ll be daydreaming about having a few items of this collection to yourself for your home. Check the museum’s schedule for workshops, thematic conferences, and tours in the Marais.

For more information, visit the Musee Cognacq-Jay here.

 

 

6. Kroller-Muller Museum

 

Location: Otterlo, Netherlands

Starting Prices: 18.60 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Prepared to marvel? The Kroller-Muller Museum boasts the second largest gallery of authentic Van Gogh pieces, along with his famous friends, such as Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. Stroll through one of Europe’s largest sculpture gardens. As you walk about and muse, listen through headphones about the stories behind each piece, bringing them to life in your imagination

For more information, visit the Kroller-Muller Museum here.

 

 

7. Kumu Art Museum

 

Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Starting Prices: 8 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Kumu is celebrated as the largest and most representative exhibition of Estonia. It is split into floors according to exhibitions. These include World War II, the work of Soviet occupation, and the Contemporary Art Gallery which is designed to be an ideas space, subject to creativity and experimentation. Visit during the Kumu Art Festival, or any time year round to take an art class or workshop from the Kumu Estonian art experts.

For more information, visit the Kumu Art Museum here.

 

 

8. National Cinema Museum

 

Location: Torino, Italy

Starting Prices: 10 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The National Cinema Museum boasts the Cinema Massimo and is considered a “Temple of Cinema”, working with the Digital Museum to personalize a digital experience. Watch a film at the Cinema Massimo, attend a workshop about intercultural dialogue and cinema’s power of communication, or explore the cinema-related books in the bookshop. The museum benefits the Maria Adriana Prolo Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to the study and documentation in the field of cinema.

For more information, visit the National Cinema Museum here.

 

Jump To Any Museum By Clicking Here:

War-Themed Museums

1.In Flanders Field  |  2. National War Museum | 3. The Museum of Genocide Victims  |  4. 101st Airborne Museum ‘Le Mess” Bastogne  | 5. Swedish Air Force Museum  |  6. National Army Museum  |  7. Imperial War Museum London  |  8. Mémorial de la Shoah  | 9. Museum of the Second World War  | 10. German Spy Museum

Art Museums

1. Leopold Museum  |  2. Kunsthaus Zurich   |  3. The Museum of Contemporary Art  |  4. The British Museum | 5. Musee Cognacq-Jay | 6. Kroller-Muller Museum  | 7. Kumu Art Museum | 8. National Cinema Museum

Culture Museums

1. Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences |  2. Musee du Quai Branly  |  3. Epic – The Irish Immigration Museum | 4. Swiss Musuem of Transport  | 5. Amsterdam Museum | 6. British Motor Museum | 7. ASTRA Museum  |  8. Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center  | 9. Romanian Peasant National Museum | 10. The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow | 11. Belvue Museum   | 12. National Maritime Museum | 13. Archaeological Museum of Pella | 14. Church and Museum of the Infant Jesus

 

 

 

Culture Museums

 

1. Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences

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Location: Madrid, Spain

Starting Prices: 6 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Learn firsthand about the fascinating science of Spain at Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences – acclaimed as one of Spain’s most important scientific institutes. From exhibitions on natural species, the stars, and the research of Spanish scientists to educational activities geared towards either schoolchildren or adults, a visit to this museum will be as informative as it is entertaining. Wander through the stone garden or enjoy one of their many temporary exhibits, such as the African Elephant or National Parks of Spain.

For more information, visit Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences here.

 

 

2. Musee du Quai Branly

MQB. La palissade de verre. Juillet 2016.

Location: Paris, France

Starting Prices: 10 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The Musee du Quai Branly is known for its diverse and unique exhibits, such as The Sacred Stone of Maori, Fragments of Colombia Photographed, and the Aztec Hotel. Because these fascinating exhibits are temporary, visit more than once to soak up all the knowledge the museum has to offer. Despite its location in Paris, exhibits include a wide breadth of cultural and geographical stories and artifacts hailing from countries around the world.

For more information, visit the Musee du Quai Branly Summer Camp here.

 

 

3. Epic – The Irish Immigration Museum

 

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Location: Dublin, Ireland

Starting Prices: 14 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The ephemeral and fascinating experience of EPIC will take you on a journey of Irish emigration, allowing you to more deeply understand how the Irish culture has pervaded the world. The experience itself is art – make your way through 20 themed galleries, dimly lit, reminiscent of the seas traveled by Irish immigrants on their journeys to new countries. Each gallery boasts a digital, interactive experience.

For more information, visit Epic – The Irish Immigration Museum here.

 

 

4. Swiss Museum of Transport

 

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Location: Lucerne, Switzerland

Starting Prices: 27 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The fun doesn’t stop at the Swiss Museum of Transport, and it’s more than it sounds – enjoy a planetarium featuring a stellar view of the starry night sky and the latest astrological findings, a Swiss Chocolate Adventure which takes you via ride or walk through the production and sensory experience of chocolate, and all the information about Swiss transportation, from aviation to trains to automobiles.

For more information, visit the Swiss Museum of Transport here.

 

5. Amsterdam Museum

 

 

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Starting Prices: 12.50 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Learn everything there is to know about Amsterdam in the heart of the city – the Amsterdam Museum features the story of the city’s history, with exhibitions depending on the season. This is the place to absorb Amsterdam’s unique history and culture. Stick within the parameters of the museum and let the artists tell their stories, or put in some headphones and take the museum’s walking tour of the city. Their collection includes over 80,000 items either donated, from legacy, or preserved by Amsterdam over time.

For more information, visit the Amsterdam Museum here.

 

6. British Motor Museum

 

Sportscar Gallery

Location: Warwick, United Kingdom

Starting Prices: 14 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The British Motor Museum features the world’s largest collection of British cars. Better understand how the cars are preserved over time as you tour the restoration workshop and marvel at the mechanical genius of Jaguars, Daimlers, and hundreds of other names. Investigate the paperwork of the automobiles in the archive reading room, and check the schedule for events like the Jaguar Breakfast Club.

For more information, visit the British Motor Museum here.

 

7. ASTRA Museum

 

ASTRA Museum, Open Air Museum from Dumbrava Forest

Location: Sibiu, Romania

Starting Prices: 4 Euros

What To Explore:

 

You have entered the largest open-air museum in Europe:  ASTRA Museum. Here, more than 400 wooden, stone or brick constructions were brought from everywhere across Romania and rebuilt, in order to show life in the countryside. Houses, stables, mills, gardens, and streets, they all tell tales about the way people lived and worked more than one hundred years ago. Many of them no longer exist, and would have been forever lost and forgotten if they hadn’t reached ASTRA Museum. As diverse the architecture of the constructions, as diverse the communities in the rural area. Villages are inhabited by Romanians, Saxons, Hungarians, Swabians, Landlers, Rroma, Lipovans, Jews, Ukrainians, Greeks, and others, and the beauty of life emerges precisely from this diversity of raiment, customs, tongues, cultures and religions.

For more information, visit the ASTRA Museum here.

 

8. Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center

 

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Location: Moscow, Russia

Starting Prices: $8USD

What To Explore:

 

In addition to the great social significance of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, it is acclaimed for its symbolism of the world history of architecture. The museum concept is centered in remembering the Jewish culture as it has developed and persisted over the years, and the great cruelties that have historically been bestowed on the faith. Curated by the RAA Agency which also created the Holocaust Museum in New York City, the museum takes its location in Moscow into the context of the 10,000 items it features.

For more information, visit the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center here.

 

9. Romanian Peasant National Museum

 

Location: Bucharest, Romania

Starting Prices: $2 USD

What To Explore:

 

The great cultural value of the National Museum of Romanian Peasants is in the stories of real Romanian people – it won the European Museum of the Year Award in 1996 and is a member of the Museum of Folk Arts and Traditions. Situated from the stance of the Romanian peasant, the artwork and items reflect the cultural significance of Romanian lifestyle and home life.

For more information, visit the Romanian Peasant National Museum here.

 

10. The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow

 

 

Location: Krakow, Poland

Starting Prices: $5 USD

What To Explore:

 

This interesting museum exists for the sole and fascinating purpose of exposing the life and culture of the people and city of Krakow. Learn all there is to know about Krakow’s history, including its time under Nazi occupation in 1939-1945. Exhibits such as the bourgeois house and the people’s stories from the time of terror in Hitler’s reign will deepen your understanding of Krakow’s roots.

For more information, visit The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow here.

 

11. Belvue Museum

 

BELvue museum - gallery

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Starting Prices: 7 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Belvue is devoted to the greatest of Belgium – from the yummier chocolate, chips, and beer, to the relatively more important topics of democracy and pluralism. Peruse through galleries reflecting testimonials of modern day Belgians as they speak to their experiences living, growing up in, and loving Belgium. It will heighten your understanding of what all Belgium has to offer before you experience it for yourself.

For more information, visit Belvue Museum here.

 

12. National Maritime Museum

 

 

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Starting Prices: 15 Euros

What To Explore:

 

The National Maritime Museum, the second largest maritime museum in the world, is centered in Dutch maritime history with entertaining exhibitions and activities for the whole family. Indulge in the annual Whale Week and climb aboard real ships to see first-hand what a day at sea was like. Experience a virtual adventure called “The Sea” or play a life-sized board game, captain-themed! It’s the sea like you’ve never experienced it before.

For more information, visit National Maritime Museum here.

 

13. Archaeological Museum of Pella

 

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Location: Pella, Greece

Starting Prices: 8 Euros

What To Explore:

 

Experience the Macedonian capital at this riveting archaeological site, which has preserved the beauty and awe-inspiring wonders of ancient Pella. The people of Pella and their history deserves to be learned at one of the museum’s many educational programs that highlight the Macedonian kingdom spanning back for hundreds of centuries – mythologies included.

For more information, visit the Archaeological Museum of Pella here.

 

14. Church and Museum of the Infant Jesus of Prague

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Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Starting Prices: Free

What To Explore:

 

Here is where you will find the moving and inspirational 400 year old Statue of Infant Jesus of Prague, which hails thousands of people who come pay their respects and make a prayer. Its greater mission serves the Central African Republic, as it has for many years. Stroll through the museum to look at artifacts such as a dress from Emperor Ferdinand II, a crown donated by Pope Benedict XVI, and an exhibition of nativity scenes created uniquely by different countries across the globe. This experience of the infant Jesus will make the world seem smaller and more unified.

For more information, visit the Church and Museum of the Infant Jesus of Prague here.

 

Jump To Any Museum By Clicking Here:

War-Themed Museums

1.In Flanders Field  |  2. National War Museum | 3. The Museum of Genocide Victims  |  4. 101st Airborne Museum ‘Le Mess” Bastogne  | 5. Swedish Air Force Museum  |  6. National Army Museum  |  7. Imperial War Museum London  |  8. Mémorial de la Shoah  | 9. Museum of the Second World War  | 10. German Spy Museum

Art Museums

1. Leopold Museum  |  2. Kunsthaus Zurich   |  3. The Museum of Contemporary Art  |  4. The British Museum | 5. Musee Cognacq-Jay | 6. Kroller-Muller Museum  | 7. Kumu Art Museum | 8. National Cinema Museum

Culture Museums

1. Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences |  2. Musee du Quai Branly  |  3. Epic – The Irish Immigration Museum | 4. Swiss Musuem of Transport  | 5. Amsterdam Museum | 6. British Motor Museum | 7. ASTRA Museum  |  8. Jewish Museum  | 9. Romanian Peasant National Museum | 10. The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow | 11. Belvue Museum   | 12. National Maritime Museum | 13. Archaeological Museum of Pella | 14. Church and Museum of the Infant Jesus

 

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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