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    Samurai Spirit Opening Celebration
    Thursday, April 3 (5-9 p.m.)
    The Worcester Art Museum celebrates the opening of its spring exhibition, Samurai Spirit, with a Cherry Blossom Festival. The cherry blossom, which sheds its petals at its peak, has long been an expression for the samurai way of life. Explore the heroic exploits and unique lifestyles of the Japanese warriors in Samurai Spirit, and enjoy Asian-inspired entertainment, light hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. Free with Museum admission: $8 adults, $6 students/seniors with ID, free for youth ages 17 and under, and free for Museum members. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester. (508) 799-4406

    Gallery Talk: "Always on the Battlefield!"
    Thursday, April 10 (6 p.m.)
    Curator of Asian Art Dr. Louise E. Virgin and Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng, curator at Higgins Armory Museum, discuss the art and armor in the galleries of Samurai Spirit, a Worcester Art Museum exhibition. Discover what it was like to live and die as an honorable samurai. Free with Museum admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors/students with ID, free for ages 17 and under and free for members. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester (508) 799-4406

    Lecture: Buddhism and the Spirituality of the Samurai
    Thursday, April 17 (6:30 p.m.)
    Discover how samurai balanced the brutality of their profession with Zen meditation in a guest lecture with Alexander Vassey, assistant professor of history at Stonehill College. Highly cultivated individuals, samurai used Zen meditation to attain a calm, clear mind and an acceptance of their fate. Cost: $8, $6 members. Call (508) 799-4406 ext. 3007 to register. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester.

    Samurai Taiko Drumming and Martial Arts Performance
    Sunday, May 4 (1 p.m.)
    Location: Tuckerman Hall, 10 Tuckerman St., Worcester (across from Worcester Art Museum)
    Multi-instrumentalist and martial artist, Master Chouemon Tsuji, XI, and his troupe perform powerful and skillful samurai-style Taiko drumming. Master Tsuji is a descendent of the great 16th-century Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga. Then, Meik and Dianne Skoss, accomplished martial artists, introduce samurai weapons including swords, spears, and the sickle and chain. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children; Museum admission included. Call (508) 799-4406 ext. 3007. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester.

    Lecture - A Legacy Immortalized: Samurai Imagery in Early Japanese Photographs
    Sunday, May 18 (1 p.m.)
    As the legacy of Japan's warrior class was about to be relegated to the past, it enjoyed a unique revival in photographs produced primarily for Western tourists. In a special guest lecture, Dr. Allen Hockley, associate professor at Dartmouth College, explores the ways in which early Japanese photographs reconstructed samurai traditions for a new audience. Cost: $8, $6 members. Call 508.799.4406, x3007 to register. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St. Worcester.

    Lecture-The Rise of the Samurai
    Sunday, June 1 (3 p.m.)
    Location: Higgins Armory Museum, 100 Barber Ave., Worcester
    In this special guest lecture, Dr. W. Wayne Farris, professor of Japanese history at the University of Tennessee, traces the evolution of the samurai through archaeological examples. Farris is author of Heavenly Warriors: The Evolution of Japan's Military, 500-1300. The lecture is free with Higgins Armory admission. For information, call the Worcester Art Museum at (508) 799-4406 ext. 3007.

    Co-sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America.

    About the Worcester Art Museum
    A cultural jewel of New England, the Worcester Art Museum first opened to the public in 1898. Its world-renowned 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Its extensive year-round studio arts and arts appreciation program enrolls 6,000 adult and youth students each year. Public tours are offered Sundays at 2 p.m., September through May. Audio tours are also available.

    Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (evening hours sponsored by Commerce Bank), and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and full-time college students with current ID, and FREE for Members and all youth 17 and under. Admission is also FREE for everyone on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m.-noon (sponsored by The TJX Companies, Inc. and Massachusetts Electric, a National Grid Company). The Museum is located at 55 Salisbury St., Worcester, Mass., easily accessible from the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), Route 290 and Route 9. Free parking is available near entrances on Salisbury, Lancaster and Tuckerman streets. For more information, call (508) 799-4406 or visit the Museum web site at www.worcesterart.org.