The largest new national museum in the UK for more than a century opens its doors to the public in a fortnight's time. The eagerly awaited £72m Museum of Liverpool (liverpool museums.org.uk) will launch on 19 July, taking pride of place on the city's historic waterfront, next door to another cutting-edge structure of its time – the Liver Building.
This addition to Liverpool's already vibrant cultural scene aims to pick up where the award-winning Museum of Liverpool Life left off – that closed in 2006 to make way for its grand successor.
The striking new structure – with its two 8m by 28m picture windows overlooking the city – will offer 8,000sq m of flexible space across three floors. It will showcase more than 6,000 exhibits, many of which have never been on public display before.
It will be the world's only national museum devoted entirely to the history of a regional city. So, what's so special about Liverpool that it should be bestowed with such a cultural gift?
"Liverpool's waterfront is known the world over," says Prof Phil Redmond, chairman of National Museums Liverpool. "We are pleased that we will soon be welcoming visitors to what is undoubtedly a stunning addition to this World Heritage Site.
"Liverpool's role in history is also known the world over. It is fitting then that the first purpose-built museum to examine a city's historic role opens its doors 100 years to the day that the Liver Building opened for business."
At this first-phase opening – the second stage will be complete by the end of the year – visitors can appreciate, through a life-size replica, the sheer scale of the 18ft Liver Birds that perch on top of the building next door. And the galleries will focus on four main themes – the port, creative and sporting history, global significance and the people – to demonstrate Liverpool's extraordinary contribution.
You'll be able to see the stage where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met, explore Liverpool's growth into the world's greatest port, or immerse yourself in the city's rich sporting history.
"The Museum of Liverpool is all about telling the stories of the city and its people," says David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool. These tales will include times of struggle, such as the Toxteth riots, and the triumphs of its musical exports, including The Beatles, as well as the history of its football teams.
"Every single event has helped to shape this city's personality," explains Mr Fleming. "And the museum is here to tell the tale."