Cyprus Mu­seum: Will it hap­pen?

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The govern­ment has an­nounced the in­ter­na­tional ar­chi­tec­tural com­pe­ti­tion for the new Cyprus Mu­seum, a project long over­due and most nec­es­sary amid ef­forts to pre­serve our her­itage and at­tract qual­ity tourism.

As ex­pected, the govern­ment has also pounced on the op­por­tu­nity to de­clare that the new mu­seum was part of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­vel­op­ment plan for pub­lic projects, as if we didn’t know we needed a new mu­seum be­fore.

A two-tier jury has been es­tab­lished that will over­see the pro­ce­dure lead­ing to a fi­nal win­ner next May, after which we hope that the govern­ment will speed up the project through a fast-track process.

There is no doubt in any­one’s mind that Cyprus needs a new mu­seum. It will serve mul­ti­ple pur­poses, chief among them be­ing the proper stor­age of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ar­ti­facts (that keep on dis­ap­pear­ing from lo­cal mu­se­ums), preser­va­tion of the mil­len­nia-old his­tory and, of course, the pro­mo­tion of the venue that will in­clude cafés, labs, of­fices, spe­cial train­ing ar­eas and shops. Even the rise in looted ar­ti­facts from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries could be com­bated, with re­gional mu­se­ums send­ing their most im­por­tant trea­sures on Cyprus for short­term loans and safe­keep­ing.

How­ever, the project faces two ma­jor ob­sta­cles – un­der­ground ar­chae­o­log­i­cal finds and un­nec­es­sary de­lays, re­sult­ing in waste of time and money. The greater area, from the present mu­seum and old Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, lead­ing up to the Ayios Ge­orghios Hill, where ini­tial plans had the new par­lia­ment build­ing go­ing up, is packed with un­der­ground trea­sures, de­ter­min­ing the his­tory of the city which car­ried sev­eral names – Le­dra, Le­fkothea and fi­nally Le­fkosia (Ni­cosia). Any such dis­cov­er­ies should be utilised prop­erly and fused into the fu­ture plans, and not be­come cause for fur­ther de­lays un­til the rel­e­vant ser­vices de­cide what to do, if any­thing.

Con­sid­er­ing the dire need for pub­lic projects, one of the con­di­tions should be to ad­here to a strict time­frame and, if nec­es­sary, re­ward the con­trac­tor on an early fin­ish.

Hope­fully, all stake­hold­ers will also put aside their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences and come to­gether this time to agree on what the fu­ture strat­egy should be as re­gards the preser­va­tion and pro­mo­tion of his­tory of the en­tire is­land. This should be­come a jewel for our na­tional trea­sures and not a white ele­phant with un­nec­es­sary ap­point­ments and con­tracts, sim­i­lar to the ill-fated Cen­tre for the Arts and Mu­sic – a project that was deemed re­dun­dant, con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of theatres dot­ted around the cap­i­tal and the whole coun­try. All that this served was the egos of some peo­ple in past ad­min­is­tra­tions and squan­dered mil­lions that could have been bet­ter spent on de­vel­op­ing a sense of cul­ture and not dis­play­ing a non-ex­is­tent one.

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