Something Else: Anything to declare

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The Independent Culture
The Police museum in Bath, the Hethersett Fire Service Museum, even a Prison Service Museum in Stretton-under-Fosse - Britain loves creating shrines to local and national public services. It was only a matter of time, really, before we got HM Customs and Excise National Museum. But whereas museums dedicated to frenetic working lives often succeed in making them excruciatingly dull, Liverpool's latest themed museum is bending over backwards to add spice to the routines of the humble customs officer.

Rummaging demonstrations are being held throughout the summer so that members of the general public can experience the thrill of uncovering packages of illegal or undeclared substances. Led by a real-life customs official, visitors peer into car petrol tanks and under coach seats in a mock-up of a cross-Channel ferry vehicle hold. Although it may sound like a glorified Easter Egg hunt (without the prizes), Cath Leggett, Education Officer for the museum, believes the activity helps people understand that there's more to the job than 'stopping people at the airport for cigarettes and booze'.

Like preventing a rabid fox from entering the country, for example, a hologram of which sits at the end of a replica of the Channel Tunnel. With Customs and Excise generating pounds 63bn in revenue in 1992, the museum can probably afford to lay on whatever hands-on technology it wants, although for the time being the nitty-gritty of the body search thankfully remains a display only.

Sessions run to 31 July, 'Anything to Declare?', Albert Dock, Liverpool (051-207 0001)

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