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Keski-Suomen museo

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Museon info
PL 634, 40101 JYVÄSKYLÄ
Puhelin (014) 266 4346

Toimisto, arkistot, tutkimus ja kulttuuriympäristön hoito sekä maakunnallinen museotyö
Vapaudenkatu 28, 1 krs.
PL 634, 40101 JYVÄSKYLÄ
Avoinna ma-pe klo 9-16
Puhelin (014) 266 4349

Kokoelmat ja konservointi
PL 634, 40101 JYVÄSKYLÄ
Puhelin (014) 266 4361, (014) 266 4351

Museum of Central Finland, Jyväskylä

Museum Building | Administration and Archive | Collections | History in outline

The Museum of Central Finland is closed due to complete renovation. Museum will open again during 2019.

The Museum of Central Finland specializes in cultural history. It serves both as the town museum of Jyväskylä and the provincial museum of Central Finland. In addition to two craftsmen's houses situated on its premises, the museum is responsible for the care of the Pienmäki Farm Buildings Museum in Hankasalmi, a School Museum at Jyväskylä Lyceum, Jyväskylä Museum of Municipal Engineering and the home of the Heiska artist family.

The Museum of Central Finland. Photo: Pekka Helin

Museum Building

Street address: Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä
Postal address: PL 634 FIN - 40101 Jyväskylä
tel. +358 14 2664346

Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11 am.-6 pm. Changes in opening hours are possible. Admission fee adults6 €,students 3 €, children under age 18 free.

The museum was built in two stages. Alvar Aalto was commissioned to draw the architectural plans for it in 1956; the building was opened in May 1961 with interior designs by Alvar Aalto's Architects' Office and Maija Heikinheimo and Marja-Liisa Parko from ARTEK. The extension situated below the oldest part was planned and constructed after Alvar Aalto's death. His wife Elissa Aalto was in charge of Alvar Aalto & Co, which made the designs for the new part opened in December 1990. In the present composition, the entrance is located in the new part, while the former entrance can still be seen on the third floor. The total area of the old part is 2140 and the extension 755 square metres.

The museum has exhibition space on four floors, lecture rooms and a desk for publications on sale. The facilities also include a well-appointed auditorium, a lecture room in the old part, and a cafeteria, which can all be rented for courses, meetings and other similar purposes.


A large exhibition titled Jyväskylä - call it a town? spans in a most illustrative way the town's history from the 1830s until today. This permanent display is situated on the third floor. Another basic exhibition can be found on the second floor. It is titled Central Finland - past and present and it tells the history of Province of Central Finland from prehistory to our time. In addition to these, the Museum offers changing exhibitions with themes related to cultural history. Displays of art are also on the Museum's programme.


The Museum of Central Finland provides educational services for a vast public ranging from children below school age to senior citizens. Lectures of various kinds as well as exhibitions and presentations on the same are among the Museum's basic services. The staff prepare educational material, produce publications, and arrange special events.

Museum Shop

Museum shop offers diverse and quality selection of literature, postcards and other products based on museums own collections. Topics of the publications range from local history to Central Finnish cultural environment and built heritage. Part of the books are also available in English, the list can be found here.

Jyväskylä - call it a town | Central Finland - past and present | Scale models

Administration, Archive, Research and Cultural environment

Street address: Vapaudenkatu 28, 40100 Jyväskylä
Postal address: PL 634 FIN – 40101 Jyväskylä
Director tel. +358 14 2664348
Office tel. +358 14 2664349
fax. +358 14 26664345

Picture archives

Over 270.000 pictures of Jyväskylä and other parts of Central Finland. Most of them are photographs, which have been grouped according to the places and things they show. The Museum has a catalogue of all its pictures, and a computerized register of the details provided of their origin. Photographs are made for the needs of research, teaching and displays and promotional purposes, or according to the specific interests of private persons. The staff offer their help in matters relating to pictures. The Museum welcomes donations of pictures. Tel. +358 14 2664356


Over 1000 main entries, mostly of private documents, the Museum's research archive, and information gathered by Helsinki University Club of Students from Central Finland on their expeditions to their home districts between the 1930s and '60s, among other material. A catalogue has been drawn up of the archives, and computerized registers containing the details of their origin are also available. Tel. +358 14 2664356.

Press cuttings archive

Starting from the 1930s, articles on Jyväskylä and Central Finland relating to the Museum's specific tasks and field of interest. An index file of the press cuttings and a computerized register of Jyväskylä articles are available.
Tel. +358 14 2664361.


The Museum of Central Finland carries out research into the overall cultural heritage of its given area. Another principal task of the Museum is to foster the cultural environment of Central Finland. Provincial museum work, prehistoric relics, and cemetery inventories, tel. +358 14 2664360, +358 14 2664358. Building inventories, research on and care of the cultural environment. Tel. +358 14 2664352.


Street address: Salmiranta, Jyväskylä
Postal address: PL 634 FIN - 40101 Jyväskylä
tel. +358 14 2664361

Collections of objects

Over 60.000 items, among them an extensive collection of textiles and medals. The prehistoric and ethnological collections of the former Jyväskylä Teacher Training School (the present University) are also kept here. All collections have been catalogued; the computerized catalogue starts from the year 1986. In addition, the Museum has index files of the local museums in Central Finland. - The Museum of Central Finland welcomes objects that groups, families or individual citizens may wish to donate. The public is encouraged to turn to the Museum's staff for advice concerning old objects. Tel.+358 14 2664361.


Over 6000 volumes of periodicals and literature on various subjects falling within the scope of cultural history. Computerized registers available. Tel. +358 14 2664361.

History in outline

1931 The Museum Association of Central Finland was founded.
1932 The Museum was opened to the public in the house of Walter Parviainen, Cygnaeuksenkatu 10.
1953 The art section was opened in Kauppakatu 15.
1956 The Craftsmen's House Museum was opened in Ruusupuisto. A coppersmith's house and a carpenter's house were transferred there from their previous sites in the town centre.
1961 The Museum building designed by Alvar Aalto was completed.
1969 The Pienmäki Homestead Museum was opened at Niemisjärvi in Hankasalmi.
1979 The School Museum at Jyväskylä Lyceum was opened.
1981 The City of Jyväskylä became the owner of the Museum and the Board of Museums its supervisor.
1984 Jyvskylä Museum of Municipal Engineering was opened.
1988 The two craftsmen's houses were transferred to Alvar Aallon katu to make more space for extension work.
1989 The Cultural Board became the supervisory administrative body.
1990 The Museum's renovation and extension were completed.
1994 The permanent exhibition Jyväskylä - is it indeed a town? was opened.
1996 The permanent exhibition Keski-Suomi (Central Finland) was opened.

Jyväskylä - Is It Indeed a Town?
An exhibition spanning the history of Jyväskylä from the 1830s until today

1. Building the town and plying one´s trade
After its foundation in 1837, Jyväskylä, a town in the middle of thinly populated countryside, attracted young settlers from other parts of the country. These were townsfolk, mostly tradesmen and artisans, who moved here with their household servants, keeping their town-dweller ways. They soon set to building new houses and laying down streets, and filling the shore of lake Jyväsjärvi. Jyväskylä, formerly a chapel village, turned into a proper town, but it failed to establish itself as the provincial hub of business during its first decade, as had been hoped for. With townsfolk of slender means trading with each other, there was little money to be made.

2. Craftsmen and mongers
During its first two decades, Jyväskyä was a small town inhabited by artisans and tradesmen. It had two public houses and thirty-two illegal drinking establishments . Difficult of access, the town was very seldom visited by travellers from the wide world. Sometimes the odd trickster or company of actors and a pedlar selling knick-knacks would pass through, though, or a band of cossacks would stop over. Goods arriving from other parts were transported by ketches or sledges along Lake Päijänne. Although the town was located at a crossroads and by a waterway, it tended to be cut off, especially in wintertime.
The townspeople were capable of providing for their own needs. Each household would rent a plot of farming land and keep domestic animals: a horse, a cow or two and swine. Jyväskyä was still clearly rural, even though it had a good many town-like amenities. The title of an article published in 1853 in Suometar, a major Finnish newspaper, conveys surprise: Jyväskyä - is it indeed a town?

3. All-Finnish school town
The foundation of a Lyceum in 1858 and a Teacher Training College in Jyväskylä in 1863 heralded a new era for the town. These were the very first Finnish-language educational institutions in the whole country, contributing remarkably to the town's emergence as the centre of Finnish culture.
Not only mental activity but also local business was greatly enlivened by teachers and their families as well as a couple of thousand students who moved here. Jyväskylä became increasingly associated with culture, hence the name Finnish Athens.
The town's fortunes declined towards the end of the 1860s, when the scourges of famine and epidemics set in.

4. Log business boom and bankruptcies
After the Franco-German war, the booming log business turned the slumbering small town surrounded by vast forests into a Klondyke. Sellers and buyers, lumberjacks, adventurers and shammers all found their way to Jyväskylä. Fancy town houses were built, champagne flowed, and trotting horses were bought and sold.
When business declined, there was a wave of bankruptcies. Nearly all those who had given themselves over to speculating in logs suffered huge losses - innkeepers, shopkeepers and teachers alike.

5. Progress and prosperity
At the end of the 19th century, Jyväskylä's development was interlinked with the great importance it placed on Finnish-language enlightenment. Having established itself as the centre of the rising Finnish culture, the town became well-known, for example, for hosting national meetings of primary school teachers and teachers-to-be as well as popular song and music festivals held annually.
Thanks to the prospering log trade and sawmill industry, both the town itself and the economic area surrounding it were well-off. A new parish church, Teacher Training College buildings, a lakeside restaurant, a lookout tower on the central ridge, and many town houses were built. Jyväskylä's vigour, wealth and town-like way of life were also symbolized by a new railway and steamships.

6. Factory workers and railwaymen
Jyväskylä saw many changes and reforms at the turn of the century. The municipal supply of electricity as well as plumbing and drainage were taken in hand soon after the opening of the new railway. Telephone services were extended, which further improved communications.
Industrialization brought about major changes both in the town's social structure and local club activities and entertainment.
A number of residential areas built for workers date from the late 19th century: M„ki-Matti situated outside the town proper crammed with houses, Keljo close to the Korkeakoski sawmill, and Taulumäki and Tourula near the Kangas papermill. Housing for the Schauman plywood factory workers and railwaymen and their families was also built outside the packed town area.

7. Town by the water´s edge
A town facing onto a lake was the principal idea of the plan originally drawn up for Jyv„skyl„. Up until the early 20th century, most freight and passenger traffic passed through the harbour.
Small vessels would ply between Jyv„skyl„ and harbours to the north of it, while bigger passenger steamships would run to the southern end of Lake Päijänne - as they still do. Pleasure boating by motor and sailing-vessels has increased steadily since the beginning of the century. The need for moorings has grown at the same rate.

8. Industry - a driving force
After Finland became independent, the state set out to build new military factories. Jyväskyä„ was found to be the only town that could not be reached by possible enemy bombers. A state-owned rifle factory was set up in Tourula on the edge of the town, and a cannon factory began operation within the town area.
The two factories increased manyfold their production and number of workers during the Winter War (1939-40) and the Continuation War. The arms industry later gave birth to the Valmet tractor and paper machine factories. The various industries have accelerated the town's rate of growth more than anything else. In wartime, the population increased almost threefold. Thus, when Jyväskylä became the capital of the Province of Central Finland founded in 1960, it had some 40.000 inhabitants.

A show window in Jyväskylä - call it a town -exhibition. Photo: Pekka Helin.

9. Moving into blocks of flats
Post-war Jyväskylä could offer plenty of jobs but not enough housing. Therefore even summer residences in the environs had to serve as accommodation all year round.
Large residential areas were initially built in Nisula, Kypärämäki, Köhniö and Mattilanpelto. Dozens of blocks rose in the centre and especially in its vicinity. Subsequent phases involved new housing estates in Viitaniemi, Kortepohja, Lohikoski, Kangasvuori, Keltinmäki and Kuokkala.
During these years of rapid growth, a number of municipal amenities, such as waste management and roads, were more or less neglected. Kauppakatu, the main street, was certainly the most heavily trafficked loggers' track in the country, and the dump on the shore of lake Jyväsjärvi really had a central location!

10. Versatile centre of education
Thanks to the very first Finnish-language schools and the teacher training college founded here, Jyväskylä had distinguished itself as a school town. A summer university and a College of Education were stepping-stones to a higher aim: a Finnish-language university, as envisaged by Wolmar Schildt, a prominent Jyväskylä figure, a hundred years before its eventual realization in 1966. At this stage, Jyväskylä also had several intermediate-level schools.
Special shops, new department stores and business in general became centred on a small area round the bottom of Kauppakatu.

11. Jyväskylä - a town indeed!
The history of Jyväskylä spans one and a half centuries. In the course of this time, the town has grown equally both within and outside its limits; the most recently annexed area is Säynätsalo. The borders between the various municipalities constituting the Jyväskylä region have virtually disappeared as regards many principal amenities and services relating to housing, transport and leisure, for example. Thus, in practice, Jyväskylä is a "city" with over 100.000 inhabitants.

Scale models on display

The Village of Jyväskylä in 1805
In 1805, after the general parcelling out of land, the Jyväskylä region was thinly inhabited and rural. The chapel parish church built in 1775 between the ridge and lake Jyväsjärvi and a market square adjacent to it were the central landmarks. The road from Hämeenlinna leading northwards and the Vaasa road joined near the church. The town of Jyväskylä was founded in 1837. Drawn up on a grid pattern, its plan centred around the church. JYVÄSKYLÄ IN THE 1880s By the end of its first fifty years, Jyväskylä had become a community with the external characteristics of a town. The grid pattern town plan was now full of houses, and a new church dominated the centre. In the west, the townscape was lent particular charm by the red brick buildings of the Teachers' Training College set amidst pine trees. Jyväskylä now had a population of nearly 2000. It was a school town with little industry. Besides the church and the Teachers' Training College, the most prominent public buildings were a lakeside restaurant and lookout tower.

The upper end of Kauppakatu in 1903
The scale model shows a couple of blocks with their houses and courtyards typical at the turn of the century. The old town hall and school building of the Lyceum can also be seen here.

Jyväskylä in the 1880s
By the end of its first fifty years, Jyväskylä had become a community with the external characteristics of a town. The grid pattern town plan was now full of houses, and a new church dominated the centre. In the west, the townscape was lent particular charm by the red brick buildings of the Teachers` Training College set amidst pine trees. Jyväskylä now had a population of nearly 2000. It was a school town with little industry. Besides the church and the Teachers` Training College, the most prominent public buildings were a lakeside restaurant and lookout tower.

The shore of lake Jyväsjärvi in 1936
This semicircular scale model built for the centenary of Jyväskyä„ is illustrative of the town as viewed from the lake. Wooden houses and lush trees characterized the townscape. The first few blocks of flats already pointed to future development. Communications centred around the shore, as the railway and coach stations were situated near the harbour.

Jyväskylä in 1952
Completed for the 150th anniversary of Jyväskylä, this large model shows what has become of the small town laid out on a grid pattern plan. After rapid post-war development, it has turned into a centre of commerce and industry with 30.000 inhabitants and a varied townscape. The overall view is dominated by new residential areas, and, on the other hand, large industrial plants: the old Kangas Paper Mill, and the new plywood factory of Schauman Wood and two new Valmet plants. Construction of buildings by Alvar Aalto is about to begin on the campus of what has become a College of Education.

Central Finland - past and present. Photo: Pekka Helin.

Central Finland – past and present

1. Prehistoric times
In Finland, prehistoric times did not begin until the Mesolithic Age, which was the middle period of the Stone Age, which followed the last Ice Age. The first people are presumed to have settled in the area of Central Finland around 7000 B.C. Prehistoric times are roughly divided into three periods on the basis of the raw material mainly used for edged weapons. In Finland this division has been dated as follows:

Stone Age 8000 B.C. - 1500 B.C.
Bronze Age 1500 B.C. -500 B.C.
Iron Age 500 B.C. -1200 A.D.

This conventional division does not reveal much about the lives of people. It seems to make little difference whether spears and arrows with heads made of stone or iron were used in slaying game. More useful, perhaps, is a division into two periods based on the source of livelihood: the age of hunting communities and that of agricultural communities. In Central Finland prehistoric times fall for the most part under the age of hunting communities.

The prehistoric period ended as the practice of recording events was introduced. In Finland this took place around the year 1200 A.D., after the church became established as a result of the crusades. This time marks the dawn of the Middle Ages, the first period of history proper. The Middle Ages ended about 1500, when modern times began.

Medieval documents tell us very little about life in sparsely populated rural areas. Central Finland was among those regions where prehistoric times continued virtually up until the 16th century, the dawn of modern times, when the earliest permanent records were established. The crown needed them for collecting taxes from people farming the land. The earliest taxation registers date from the 1540s. Permanent population was also recorded in them.

Approximately 9000 years ago, after the continental glacier had melted, Lake Ancylus lay in the same area where the Baltic Sea was later to be formed. On the eastern shore of this ancient lake, in the location of present-day Central Finland, was a landscape of islands and fjords. These areas were eventually to be covered over by the vast waters of prehistoric Lake Päijänne. This enormous lake at first flowed north-west. Some 6000 years ago, as a result of a rapid rise of the land, it found its present channel into the Gulf of Finland.

2. The establishment of administration and agriculture
Administration, the rule of law and the church became established in Central Finland during the 16th century. More land was cleared for farming, and, as fishing became more effective, less game was needed for sustenance. Settlers from the provinces of Häme in the south and Savo in the east eventually assimilated with the original population, who had long traditions in fishing and hunting. Before learning to live in peace with one another, the settlers and natives went through numerous violent skirmishes.

Until the late 16th century, ecclesiastic influences were spread by a church in Jämsä and itinerant priests, whose circuits in the roadless tract were infrequent. In 1593 another church was built at a confluence of waterways in Laukaa. After this, both the church and administration gained a stronger foothold in northern Central Finland. Registers of farmsteads and farm-dwellers had been kept for the purpose of taxation since the beginning of the century. It appears that even in the poor northern districts heavy taxes were collected from the peasants. Towards the end of the century, smallholders rose up against their rulers. Cavalry were brought in to crush the three-month rebellion, and many a peasant suffered a sad fate.

By the end of the 16th century, the population of Central Finland has been estimated at 15,000.

Published by Jakob Ziegler in 1532, this map of the Nordic countries provides its European readers with two pieces of information about Central Finland. It outlines the shape of Lake Päijänne, and, in the text, it gives the coordinates of latitude and longitude indicating the location of one village, Jämsä, the seat of a parish church.

3. The province takes shape
Sovereign power over Finland passed from the King of Sweden to the Russian Emperor in 1809, as a result of a war between Sweden and Russia (1808-09; A War over Finland). This change had little effect on day-to-day life in Central Finland. At that time, the region was a hinterland of the provinces of Vaasa, Häme, Kuopio and Kymenkartano, fairly poor and thinly populated. Highways met at the Koivisto junction in Laukaa, where a post-office was also located. On the wall of that office, the double-headed eagle of Russia now took the place of the three-crown emblem of Sweden. Crowns and öre, rare items among the rural population, were gradually to be replaced by roubles and kopecks.

The town of Jyväskylä was founded in 1837 as the centre of a province taking shape. At this stage, a canal joining the two vast waterways Keitele and Päijänne was also built. The new town and canal gave a boost to the region=s economic development. Another change, which involved the whole country, was a programme of reparcelling: to unify farmed areas, both cultivated land and vast wooded tracts were redivided. Even in those days many new settlers still built their cabins without any sort of flue to carrying away smoke. Yet on more prosperous estates houses were equipped with chimneys and glass windows.

The impact of settlers from various parts of the country showed in the form of the tools used, for example. Where influences from Savo were strong, rye and barley were reaped with an eastern-type sickle, while a south-western type was preferred in areas with more settlers from Häme. Yet many a year there was nothing to reap, for the crops were ravaged by heavy frosts. Thus most of the peasants lived in constant fear that they might soon have to go hungry because of meagre harvests.

By the early 19th century Central Finland had a population of 50,000.

Drawn by His Royal Majesty=s Office of Survey in 1806, this Road Map of Finland shows the location of Central Finland at the southern corners of four provinces. About half of the present province of Central Finland, including the chapel parish of Jyväskylä, was situated within the boundaries of the province of Vaasa marked in green on the map.

4. The name Central Finland becomes established
As early as the 1850s, Wolmar Schildt, district physician and a prominent Jyväskylä figure, put forward the proposal that the historical province of Central Finland should seek to obtain the administrative status of a province proper. Even if quite a long time was to elapse before this vision eventually materialized, regional identity was strengthened in many ways over the next few decades. A newspaper called Keski-Suomi (Central Finland) was published in Jyväskylä. A local restaurant as well as the most popular brand of spirits produced by a local distillery also bore the province=s name.

Traditional way of ironing. Photo: Pekka Helin.

The foundation of the very first Finnish-language educational institutions, a secondary school (Jyväskylä Lyceum; 1858) and a teacher training college (1863), highlighted the national significance of both Jyväskylä and Central Finland.

Utilization of the enormous forests covering the greater part of the region was started in the 1870s. The province earlier accustomed to a frugal and quiet existence rapidly took on a new, enterprising attitude. Timber was sold, and with the money such modern commodities as iron ploughs, separators and steam-driven machines were bought. Money circulated and prosperity increased not only on the large estates but also in the lowly tenants= cottages. Lake steamers, the railway and an improved network of roads enabled greater mobility of people, goods and ideas alike. In the late 1870s, at the end of this period marked by thriving log trade and economic boom, the population of Central Finland was close on 100.000.

According to I.J.Inbergs Atlas of Finland, published in 1878 for the good of schools, Central Finland was poorly served with roads. This map shows only one road running from Keuruu via Jyväskylä and Laukaa to Kuopio. In reality the conditions were not as dismal as this: there were decent connections to the south and north, as well.

5. Industrialization of Central Finland
Clear signs of progress were the coming of the railway and the increasing density of the road network. This map shows Central Finland during the first few decades of the 20th century.

The civil war waged in Finland in 1918 left only a few scars upon Central Finland. Finland gained autonomy in 1917. In Central Finland the early years of national independence were devoted to public enlightenment. Educational pursuits were many and varied, and they produced good results among the local population. University students took a keen ethnological interest in their home district and its identity. To foster identification with the province, such institutions as the Fraternity of Students from Central Finland, the Regional Council of Central Finland and the Museum of Central Finland were established.

The first sawmills, plywood factories and plants specializing in mechanical wood processing were built in the province at the beginning of the 20th century. Before long, large plants engaged in chemical wood processing were set up in Lievestuore, Äänekoski and Jämsänkoski. The growing industry made its presence felt in many ways. Enormous rafts of logs became a familiar sight on many waterways. Unfortunately wood processing also brought with it more and more harmful discharges of waste water into the lakes.

Until the 1920s, steamers were the most important means of public transport. Yet buses were soon to take over, as they enabled travel throughout the year. Completed after the civil war, a railway running west-east from Jyväskylä to Pieksämäki connected the province with the national network. Thus Central Finland with its population of 170,000 had the advantage of being well served by transport.

6. Provincial government
In the rural parts of Central Finland, the post-war years were devoted to hard work. Houses had to be built and farmland cleared for Karelian evacuees and men returning from the front. Schools, shops and premises for business and services of various kinds were constructed in villages as well as more remote parts. Yet this period of settlement was soon to be followed by a movement in the opposite direction: rural depopulation. To secure a better living, many people moved to the city or migrated to Sweden. For quite a few of them, a summer-cottage by the lakeside was to be the only link with their rural past.

Ever since the first years of Finland=s independence, the arms industry had concentrated in Jyväskylä and the surrounding area. In the post-war era it had to adapt its production to war indemnities demanded by the Soviet Union. The province=s forest and metal industries had also progressed so far as to turn out high quality goods and compete effectively in the international market.

After the import controls were lifted, the number of cars and the network of hard-surfaced roads grew at an equal rate in Central Finland. Road and air traffic as well as data communications developed considerably. A number of small municipalities were annexed to larger ones, which unified the area. The long regional history eventually culminated in attaining the status of an administrative district in 1960, when the Province of Central Finland was established. The Provincial Office was founded in Jyväskylä to represent central administration in this area with a population amounting to roughly a quarter of a million.

The boundaries of the new administrative area, the Province of Central Finland, were determined mainly on the basis of the road and railway network. This map of Central Finland dates from the 1960s.

The Provincial Office was founded in Jyväskylä to represent central administration in this area with a population amounting to roughly a quarter of a million. In 1997 the Province on Central Finland was abolished and annexed to the new, much larger Province of Western Finland.

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