Cyprus Museum: Will it happen?
E DII TO RII A L
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.