Building for the future
By TIM MADIGAN
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
On Jan. 22, 1990, in an auditorium at Rockefeller Center in New York, Kimbell Art Museum director Ted Pillsbury unveiled his ambitious blueprint for museum expansion to a decidedly skeptical audience. The widow of legendary architect Louis Kahn was there that day, as were many of Kahn's colleagues and admirers, who generally agreed that adding new wings to the Kimbell building in Fort Worth, one of Kahn's signature achievements, was tantamount to adding brush strokes to a Picasso.
That night in New York, Kahn's daughter, Sue Ann, was the first person to rise in opposition.
The Kimbell scuttled the expansion project a few weeks later, but the uproar of 16 years ago has never been forgotten. Which explains the impact of another January night, just two months ago, when Sue Kahn sat down to dinner with Kay and Ben Fortson, president and vice president of the Kimbell board, and Timothy Potts, who succeeded Pillsbury as the museum's director in 1998. At a corner table in Fort Worth's elegant La Piazza restaurant, the longtime acquaintances caught up on careers, children and grandchildren. Then Kay Fortson turned to Louis Kahn's daughter and asked a question that sent the conversation in a potentially historic direction.
"Sue," Kay Fortson asked, "how would you feel about us putting up a new building across the road from the Kimbell?"
Her enthusiastic reply set off a wave of inspiration around the table. By the time the party of six (including Mark Gunderson and his wife, Daphne, both local architects) dispersed into the Texas winter night, each had the sense a threshold had been crossed: Fort Worth's marquee cultural institution was ready to build a distinctive companion to Louis Kahn's masterpiece in the heart of the Cultural District.
"I can't deny it was a magical thing," Kay Fortson says recently of the dinner. "It was in the sense that it opened my eyes and Ben's eyes that it was time to talk about this again. It was the right time to bring up the discussion of a new building. ... It was important to me to have Sue Kahn's blessing."
Kimbell officials caution that the building idea remains in the preliminary stages. The full museum board has yet to be consulted and must approve the project. But there is palpable momentum for moving forward with an endeavor that would surely attract the attention of the international art community and inspire design proposals from the world's finest architects.
It would also go far toward restoring cultural primacy to the place that some art observers say has gone relatively quiet in the past several years and that has been shouldered from the limelight by high-profile building projects of its museum neighbors.
That slip in the public's imagination was reflected in a January market survey conducted by the Star-Telegram. Although the Kimbell remains among the best known and most frequently visited museums in North Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth residents were 50 percent less likely to attend the Kimbell than they were a decade ago, the survey said.
"I suspect that [the Kimbell's] been doing a steady stream of things and that some of them are probably terrific," says Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic of The New York Times. "But I think it's fair to say that the general sense of the place is that the temperature has been lowered."
That would certainly change as the Kimbell goes forward with its plans, which include razing the nondescript brick building at the corner of Darnell and Arch Adams streets. (The museum foundation bought the building and 5.8 acres surrounding it from the Fort Worth school district in 1998 for $5 million. It's currently used as a Kimbell auditorium.) No one can predict the sort of structure that might take its place, but Potts says he envisions a unique, spacious venue for traveling exhibitions. The new building will probably display part of the Kimbell's vaunted permanent collection as well and contain a small bookstore and coffee bar.
It would also complete a quartet of world-class museum buildings in the Cultural District, including the original Kimbell and the massive new Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which sits just across Arch Adams, a few hundred yards away. When the Modern opened in December 2002, the $65 million concrete and aluminum structure designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando earned rave reviews from international critics. Just west, up a hill and across an expanse of lawn from the Kimbell and the Modern, sits the Amon Carter Museum, which was designed by another legendary American architect, Philip Johnson. The Carter completed its own heralded expansion in late 2001.
Faced with chronic space constraints in the Kahn building, Kimbell officials have for years contemplated building a second venue, and by the time of the recent dinner at La Piazza, several key factors had fallen into place. Chief among them were rising oil and gas prices, which have helped swell the Kimbell endowment to more than $300 million. While the Kimbell will explore a range of financing options, museum money also would be used. After recent investment gains, the Kimbell could absorb building costs and still have the money to continue pursuing top exhibitions and new masterpieces.
But the building plans needed a trigger, and the dinner with Sue Kahn provided it. (In an e-mail to the Star-Telegram, Kahn said she was "pleased to be included in what might be described as a significant discussion of the Kimbell's history. In a congenial conversation about options for the Kimbell's growth, the Fortsons reiterated that they would not in any way alter my father's building as part of any future plans.")
"I think if there was something that happened at that dinner, it was that switch that got flicked," Potts says. "I think it helped Kay and Ben enormously to hear this from [Sue], and to know that the other pieces were in place. So it was like, 'Wouldn't it be exciting to have the opportunity to be the ones to take that leap forward and do something which adds dramatically to the Kimbell, the area and to the arts in this city?"
An either/or dilemma
From the time he arrived in Fort Worth, Timothy Potts has wanted to construct a second building across the street from the Kimbell, if only because the building's modest size prevents it from accommodating both traveling exhibitions and the museum's permanent collection at the same time.
But as the 1990 uproar illustrated, the Kahn building was sacrosanct because of its architectural distinction, and expanding it was never really an option.
With its cycloid vault ceilings, revolutionary use of natural light and its intimacy, the Kimbell was widely viewed as a work of art unto itself -- "America's finest small museum," as one prominent art critic dubbed it in the mid-'80s. But in what has become a common scenario over the years, Kimbell visitors from other parts of the country or the world have shown up at the museum hoping to enjoy its renowned masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Caravaggio, Rubens or Rembrandt, only to discover some of the permanent collection had been put away to make space for an exhibition.
Traveling shows are crucial to an institution's mission and long-term vitality, Potts says. But displaying and interpreting the permanent collection is closer to the soul of the Kimbell -- even at the cost of diminished attendance, Potts says. Last year, the director decided to cancel a exhibition of Old Master paintings to allow more time for the permanent collection to hang in the galleries. The museum's visibility dipped.
"No matter how well you market [the permanent collection], people know it," says Potts. "They're only going to come back so often to a collection they've seen before. They want something new. My frustration is that we have to do an either/or rather than a both. Every other museum with a collection of this quality has the option of doing both."
Another factor contributing to the museum's diminished profile was the frenetic pace Pillsbury set during his tenure. A burst of important acquisitions by Pillsbury and the Kimbell board in the 1980s was followed in 1994 by the blockbuster "Impressionist Masterpieces from the Barnes Collection," more than 80 paintings by Cezanne, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso that belonged to a private collection in Pennsylvania. The Barnes exhibit drew a record 430,000 visitors.
The Kimbell's international reputation soared under Pillsbury, but his tenure was as tempestuous as it was successful. He resigned abruptly in 1998, and Kay Fortson acknowledges that there was a sense of weariness at the museum in the aftermath.
"We wanted to catch our breath ... and needed a quieter period," she says.
Coincidentally or not, Potts, the Australian-born and Oxford-educated archaeologist hired as the new director, was as reserved as Pillsbury was voluble.
While Pillsbury was also a tireless marketer and media darling, Potts is widely perceived to have a prickly relationship with the press.
Some art observers say that difference in leadership styles has contributed to the Kimbell's recent quietude. One of them, Riley Nail, a prominent North Texas art collector and patron of the Kimbell since it opened, said he thinks the museum has "become rather bland" under Potts.
"It stopped just sort of becoming an institution," Nail said. "Instead of becoming one of the museums that you mentioned with a host of the top museums, the Met, [MOMA], the Frick and so forth, the Kimbell was almost there, but didn't quite make it because it lost its firepower. It suddenly wasn't on the tip of anybody's tongue anymore."
According to the Star-Telegram market survey, which mirrored the methodology of others done for the Kimbell in the 1990s, public awareness of the museum has dropped from 100 percent at the time of the Barnes exhibit to 83 percent today.
The survey also indicated significant drops in the percentage of the North Texas market that had visited the Kimbell, (78 percent in 1994, 59 percent in January) and respondents' intent to attend the museum (80 percent in 1994, 29 percent in January). The Star-Telegram survey had a margin of error of 10 percentage points. But part of the Kimbell's declining profile was also inevitable, considering the growth that has gone on around it in recent years. In many ways, Fort Worth's premier cultural institution seemed to graciously cede the spotlight to its neighbors during the building projects of the Amon Carter and Modern museums. Peter Marzio, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, compares developments in Fort Worth to those of New York City, where the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art has overshadowed the encyclopedic Metropolitan Museum of Art, however temporarily.
"Does that mean MOMA has a higher profile than the Met? Does that mean there's something wrong with the Met? I don't think so," Marzio says. "Once it settles out, the Met will still be a great encyclopedic museum, and MOMA will still be a great museum of modern art.
"I don't think that [the Kimbell's] standards of quality for their art purchases has dropped one notch," Marzio adds. "When you look at what they're purchasing, it's been pretty awesome. If that hasn't caught the public's imagination, the question would be, 'Why?' It might be because the two capital improvement projects in Fort Worth are easier to promote, press-wise, and represent a destination for people. They are new environments as opposed to an environment people think they know, which is the Kimbell."
Kimbell officials generally resist suggestions that the museum's profile has slipped, but acknowledge that the rejuvenation of other arts institutions has altered the cultural landscape.
"What I think is now we have the Modern museum, and it's great, and we've got the Carter, and on the other side [of the Cultural District] the Cowgirl Hall of Fame," says Kay Fortson, who has been president of the Kimbell board since the mid-'70s. "It's not just the Kimbell on the hill right now. I think it's a complex, and I think there's room for everybody. I still don't see, even after all the talking, that there has been any slipping with the museum. ... I'll do what I can to keep it from going down on my watch."
An unbreakable bond
If all goes as planned, Kay Fortson will oversee the search for the right architect and the right design for the companion to the Louis Kahn icon.
Given the Kimbell's existing profile, the process of adding to its campus with a second distinctive building figures to be one of Fort Worth's most important cultural developments in decades.
But until recently many in Fort Worth, including Kay and Ben Fortson themselves, believed that project would be led by the next generation of Kimbell leaders -- the Fortsons' grown children, who also sit on the museum board.
"I was thinking the other day, 'Why are Ben and I the ones to build this building and not pass it on to the next generation?'" Kay Fortson said. "The thought came to me that we have a bond with that Lou Kahn building that nobody else has."
In fact, the recent night in the Fort Worth restaurant was reminiscent of another watershed moment in Kimbell history, this one in 1965, when the Fortsons, then a young couple, sat in a room at the Fort Worth Club late into the night, persuading Richard Fargo Brown to leave his leadership post at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and become the Kimbell's first director. It was Brown who, with the Fortsons, went on to collaborate with Kahn on the Kimbell building that opened in 1972.
"I have to admit, after dinner, as Kay and I walked out of La Piazza, my perspective on a building project had changed," Ben Fortson said recently. "Financially, we're better able to support a building project. That eases my concerns that exhibitions and acquisitions would not suffer. Then to hear that Sue Kahn liked what she was hearing, and getting caught up in the conversation that night, I just had the confidence that we could do it.
"Something just worked."
Museum director Timothy Potts says he envisions a unique, spacious venue for traveling exhibitions. Kimbell officials caution that the project remains in the preliminary stages.
Last edited by dfwcre8tive; 06 March 2006 at 02:53 AM.
I'm excited about this as well. The Kimbell is an excellent museum and is an intregal part of the cultural district in Ft. Worth. An expansion will only make it better.
By the power of greyskull!
Architect Piano to design Kimbell expansion 11:30 AM CDT
11:30 AM CDT on Thursday, April 5, 2007
From Staff Reports
Architect Renzo Piano will design an expansion of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, the museum announced Thursday.
Mr. Piano is best known in North Texas for his design of the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas' Arts District, and has designed other prominent museums including the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Menil Collection in Houston.
In 1998 he won the Pritzker Prize, among the top honors in the architectural world.
Italian firm chosen for Kimbell addition
By GAILE ROBINSON
STAR-TELEGRAM ART AND DESIGN CRITIC
Posted on Thu, Apr. 05, 2007
Italian architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop has been chosen to design an addition to the Kimbell Art Museum, the Kimbell Art Foundation announced Thursday.
It will be a separate, new building, directly across Arch Adams Street from the existing museum.
In recent years, Renzo Piano’s firm has become one of the world’s most active in museum design. In Texas, his credits include the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and the Menil Collection in Houston. Nationally, he has completed museum additions for the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. The commission that first propelled Piano into the international design spotlight was his work with architect Richard Rogers on the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris completed in the early 1970s.
Still, accepting the commission could not have been an easy decision for the firm. The Kimbell’s original building, designed by Louis Kahn and opened in 1972, has become an international architectural icon. The new building will also be across the street from the highly acclaimed Tadao Ando-designed Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
"It’s an awesome challenge, but an attractive one," said Piano, in a prepared statement. He is familiar with and sympathetic to Kahn’s designs, having worked in the older architect’s Philadelphia office in the late 1960s. "It is all the more satisfying as an undertaking, given my association with Lou Kahn and my deep respect for his work."
Last edited by dfwcre8tive; 18 November 2008 at 09:06 AM.
“We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”
renzo piano is the perfect one to follow up kahn's work here.
Kimbell Art Museum plans expansion designed by Renzo Piano
07:42 AM CST on Tuesday, November 18, 2008
By SCOTT CANTRELL / The Dallas Morning News
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth will unveil preliminary plans today for a $70 million addition designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
The plans call for a separate two-level building west of the original 1972 structure, a revered design by the late Louis Kahn. Final blueprints should be in hand by late 2009 or early 2010, with construction to begin shortly after and opening expected in 2012.
"The Kimbell will better be able to fulfill its mission of providing the experience of great art to the people of Fort Worth," says Malcolm Warner, the museum's acting director, "if we have good temporary exhibition space."
The design at this point is just conceptual – the layout of the building, but not details on the exterior or interior. It's expected to be a rectilinear structure somewhat smaller than the Kahn building, to some extent echoing its concrete-and-travertine surfaces but not the signature barrel vaults.
Posted on Tue, Nov. 18, 2008
Goodbye, west lawn: Kimbell reveals placement of new building
By GAILE ROBINSON
FORT WORTH — Kimbell Art Museum officials will unveil their new building plans today. As anticipated, or dreaded, the Renzo Piano-designed facility is going to be built on the west lawn, directly in front of the existing building.
The new building will be 90,000 square feet, with more than a quarter of it devoted to new gallery space to accommodate temporary exhibitions. There will be an underground parking structure, a 315-seat auditorium and an education wing with offices, studios and a cafe. The price tag for construction is estimated at $70 million, and the Kimbell Art Foundation is picking up the tab.
Because groundbreaking isn’t expected until 2010, there is ample time for tinkering with surface choices, model-making and fine-tuning.
Piano has said he will use the same building materials as those used by architect Louis Kahn for the original Kimbell — travertine marble, concrete and glass. The front will be almost all glass, so when visitors are channeled up from the underground parking garage into the lobby that stretches the length of the building, they will see the front of the existing Kimbell.
This, Piano says, is the Kimbell’s front door, the entry point Kahn wanted all visitors to experience. Kahn did not understand Texans’ desire to park as closely as possible to a door, so almost all of the Kimbell’s visitors enter by way of the parking lot and through what is ostensibly the garage door of the museum. Piano is going to fix that.
The location of the new edifice has been a topic of speculation. When discussing the two available locations, the west lawn or the Darnell Street lot, it became apparent that using the Darnell Street lot would create two separate buildings, and that would cause problems moving art and people. Putting the structure on the west lawn makes for a more cohesive campus, and although the two buildings will be separate entities, "they will have a dialogue of rhyming forms," Warner said, adding that the new building echoes the Kimbell’s original plans, which extended into the area the new building will occupy.
Sweet! 2012 cannot come soon enough.
I look forward to whatever this final result is. Certainly no one can say he has tried to upstage the existing museums in any way. Though I will mourn the loss of that lawn as much as anyone, I look forward to the new context it will place the Kimbell and Amon Carter in. And who knows what might crop up on the Darnell block to tie it all back together again? It's an exciting area.
The Darnell Auditorium and some of the parking will eventually be demolished and converted to "an expanse of park-like lawn." I'm really hoping that when it's time to start working on a lawn for the Darnell block, someone will have a substantial collection primed for display in a new sculpture garden.Originally Posted by sterling
Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth buys early Michelangelo painting
May 13, 2009
The Dallas Morning News
By Gaile Robinson
In an extraordinary coup, the Kimbell Art Museum has acquired the earliest known painting by Michelangelo, one of only four easel paintings by the Renaissance master in the world.
The Kimbell's purchase, The Torment of Saint Anthony (1487-88), will be the only painting by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) to enter the permanent collection of a U.S. museum. Two of the other paintings are in London's National Gallery, and a third is in Florence's Uffizi Gallery.
The 18 ½ -by-131/4-inch oil-and-tempera on poplar panel will go on view at the museum this fall.
The opportunity to buy the work, for an undisclosed sum, came just weeks after the arrival of newly appointed Kimbell director Eric McCauley Lee earlier this year. He was having lunch one day with former Kimbell director Edmund "Ted" Pillsbury, who had heard about the painting, which was being studied in the conservation studios at the Metropolitan Museum of New York...
...Lee trekked to New York to see the painting and meet with curators at the Met.
"We brought the painting here to Fort Worth and examined it further. Our only conclusion was it was painted by Michelangelo. It is a powerful painting and an extraordinary opportunity to have the only painting in North America by his hand," he said...
This will go nicely in their new museum building
I was reading about this in The New York Times earlier. It seems that a dealer purchased it last summer for approximately $2MM. After it was cleaned up and verified to be authintic The Kimbell paid in excess of $6MM for it. Not a bad return huh?
Is anyone at D magazine qualified to guess on that number?Originally Posted by downtownguy25
London - Florence - and...... Fort Worth!!!??!?!!!? We're hobnobbing now!Two of the other paintings are in London's National Gallery, and a third is in Florence's Uffizi Gallery.
What's up with the Piano addition to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth? Preliminary schematics were released in November of 2008, and it's been all quite since then.
Originally Posted by tamtagon
The audio from NPR's Dallas Culture vs Ft. Worth Culture story says they will break ground this year
(the last 30 seconds are slightly humorous)
Last edited by Mark Lea; 02 March 2010 at 07:58 PM.
Kimbell Art Museum's new pavilion to echo its celebrated home
12:05 AM CDT on Thursday, May 27, 2010
By SCOTT CANTRELL / The Dallas Morning News
FORT WORTH – Adding to a landmark building is one of an architect's touchiest challenges.
That's the task the Kimbell Art Museum gave the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano , whose credits include Dallas' Nasher Sculpture Center and additions to the Chicago Art Institute and New York's Morgan Library & Museum. Today, the Kimbell is unveiling Piano's final designs for a new pavilion to face the west facade of the 1972 Louis Kahn building.
Construction on the $125 million project is expected to begin this summer, with completion in 2013.
"It's one of the best buildings in the world," Piano says of the Kimbell, "and the very best building by Kahn. We're just completing things that are missing."
Most articles say just about the same thing, but I liked this one more than the others I've read:
... The main purpose of the new building is to provide extra galleries to be used primarily for exhibitions, allowing the Kahn building to be devoted to the permanent collection. The new building also provides the classrooms and studios that are essential to a full-scale museum education department, as well as an auditorium considerably larger than the one in the Kahn building, an expanded library, and generous underground parking.
When completed in 2013, the new building will complement the Kahn building and add stature to the already architecturally impressive Cultural District of Fort Worth, joining Philip Johnson’s Amon Carter Museum (1961/2001), Tadao Ando’s Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2002), and Legorreta + Legorreta’s Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (2009).
Over the past generation, the expanding array of art and cultural institutions in the Dallas Fort Worth duo have exceeded expectations toward the goal of providing 'world class' high art experiences. Area residents have almost always benefited from dueling civic boosters; this truth will not be so frequently overshadowed by Texas Bravado in the future. As Fort Worth and Dallas city pride and separate identities remains strong, the sum becomes obviously greater than the parts, especially as viewed from the outside.
The relationship between Fort Worth and Dallas is one of the greatest unplanned community attributes of North Texas.
So superficially, this will bring the Fort Worth Cultural District tally of Pritzker Architecture Prize winner buildings to four, right?
Tadao Ando with the Modern, Phillip Johnson and the Amon Carter, Kahn with the Kimbell, and now Piano also with the Kimbell....
Dallas' four list Thom Mayne at the Museum of Science and Nature, Piano with the Nasher, (mostly) Rem Koolhaas with the Wyly, and Norman Foster with the Winspear Opera House.
Calatrava will probably have Pritzker added to his resume one day, and if the at least one more of the planned three TRP Calatrava bridges is built, I think it's okay to include that "Starchitect" to the North Texas bragging list.
I'm pridefully hopeful that the Dallas Museum of Art will have cause for a major capital expansion in the next decade and add to the existing building bringing another award-winning architect to town. Hum, maybe that Bible Museum will make it with a Pritzker prize winner, that'd be a hoot!
I'm excited about Piano's thoughtful design. Though at first glance it seems smaller than the original proposal, it's spaces may just be distributed more cleverly. I love the thought of the "see-through" auditorium on axis with the center part of the original, and the mirroring of the original building's tri-part massing. Offhand, it doesn't scream "beautiful" to me, but then again, if it screamed anything at all it would be innappropriate for the Kimbell. Watching with interest...
^there have been quite a few more pictures of the Kimbell expansion added to the Fort Worth Forum.
Oh, yea, the Kimbell makes headlines all over the world with this one:
Totally Amazing.Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth buys Poussin's 'Sacrament of Ordination'
Friday, Sep. 09, 2011
BY GAILE ROBINSON
FORT WORTH -- After months of stealthy negotiations in Great Britain, the Kimbell Art Museum has acquired a $24.3 million work -- a painting that is considered one of the greatest by 17th-century French artist Nicolas Poussin. The Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter), painted between 1636 and 1642, depicts the Gospel account of Christ giving the keys of heaven and earth to the kneeling apostle Peter, vesting in him the authority of the Catholic Church.
...It is one of Poussin's series of seven Sacraments paintings that a pope once considered too important to leave Rome.
...The Sacrament of Ordination is brighter than the other Sacraments paintings and is in almost pristine condition.
The Kimbell is a shining example in so many ways. Great taste, great commitment, dedicated patrons. It's hard to believe Texans are this crafty in their "acquiring" for this growing collection of sublime art. Most Texas museums are just waiting for local patrons to die so they can collect the mish-mash of stuff the heirs don't want to pay taxes on. Knowing there are people working diligently behind the scenes to make stuff like this happen gives me hope. Maybe even a little of that vaunted Texas Pride. It's almost as if there's another game in town other than football. Sacrilege.
Haha, now that's funny. That's just what Parisians think about New Yorkers!
What a great way to open the new galleries!
http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/12...#storylink=cpyBY GAILE ROBINSON
The Kimbell Art Museum is preparing for its huge fall 2013 season. This is when the new Renzo Piano-designed building is scheduled to open.
The exhibition the museum has booked to coincide with that trumpet-fanfare moment is a rarity -- it has secured almost 100 modern masterworks of painting and sculpture from the Art Institute of Chicago.
... Kimbell director Eric M. Lee said in a statement. "With nearly 100 paintings and sculptures on view, this will be the most important exhibition ever drawn entirely from the renowned modern holding of the Art Institute."
The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart.
So how is it looking over at the Kimbell? Anybody got a view?
BY GAILE ROBINSON
FORT WORTH — The Kimbell Art Museum announced Friday that their new Renzo Piano-designed building will open Nov. 27, 2013.
Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/05...#storylink=cpy
The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart.
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