Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
CATANZARO

Riace Bronzes 'disgrace' will be 'remedied'

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Catanzaro, July 15 - A bureaucratic tangle that has
left Italy's famed Riace Bronzes in a state United Nations
cultural organisation UNESCO branded "a disgrace" will be
cleared up by the end of the year, Italian officials have vowed.
Delayed museum restoration needed to display the pair of
cherished ancient Greek sculptures is poised to begin and the
unique statues will be on show early next year, say officials
at their home in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
A renovated museum housing the iconic warrior figures
should be ready "in the first few months of 2014," officials in
Reggio Calabria said.
"The situation is finally unblocked and will be remedied"
said the managing director of Calabria's department of cultural
heritage, Francesco Prosperetti.
"The Region of Calabria has given its fundamental
contribution of five million euros, which will be used for
building museum displays and completing installation work in the
building, which should once more host the Riace Bronzes,"
Prosperetti said at a press conference held with the Calabrian
Regional Cultural Councillor, Mario Caligiuri.
"If, as we hope, there aren't snags or legal hold-ups...
inauguration and opening to the public is conceivable...in the
first months of next year", Prosperetti said.
Last week an Italian official with UNESCO claimed the
government had "abandoned" the world-famous ancient Greek
warrior statues, and called their treatment "an absolute
disgrace to Italy".
Politicians have demanded that Italy's culture minister
take fast action to protect the historically significant and
priceless statues.
The bronzes, two of Italy's most-loved cultural icons,
have been lying on their backs for more than three years in the
home of the Calabrian regional government after being moved from
a museum undergoing restoration work.
However, the work at Reggio Calabria's National
Archaeological Museum has become a victim of budget cuts and red
tape, which means the statues remain homeless.
"We call on the government to outline what steps it intends
to take to safeguard the Riace Bronzes and complete the museum
restoration," Rosy Bindi and Demetrio Battaglia, politicians
with the Democratic Party (PD) demanded.
Museum renovations began in November 2009 and since then
the valuable bronzes have been in storage, away from paying
visitors and students.
Calabria takes the Bronzes so seriously that it has
repeatedly refused permission for copies of the statues to be
made and rejected pleas for Italian promotional events worldwide
and for the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa.
In a citywide vote in 2003, the people of Reggio Calabria
came out overwhelmingly against the "cloning" of the statues,
which have been the Calabrian capital's biggest tourist draw
since they were discovered.
The bronzes were discovered in 1972 by a Roman
holiday-maker scuba diving off the Calabrian coast and turned
out to be one of Italy's most important archaeological finds in
the last 100 years.
Their' trip across town to the council site was supposed to
be a brief one.
When they left the Archaeological Museum on December 22,
2009, Calabria's archaeological superintendent, Simonetta
Bonomi, said it was "just for a six-month restoration".
The move was the first time in 28 years that the priceless
2,500-year-old bronzes had left the Museo Nazionale di
Reggio Calabria.
The only previous occasion they were let out was in 1981,
for a triumphant round-Italy tour, which sold out venues in
Rome, Florence and Milan
At the time of the move, Bonomi said "they will be looked
over and restored to full glory hopefully by the end of June
next year (2010)".
Bonomi said they would not be "too disturbed" at the
restoration workshop, since their clean-up performed by experts
from Rome's National Restoration Institute would be "merely
conservative in nature''.
The statues are of two virile men, presumably warriors
or gods, who possibly held lances and shields at one time. At
around two metres, they are larger than life.
The 'older' man, known as Riace B, wears a helmet, while
the 'younger' Riace A has nothing covering his rippling hair.
Both are naked.
Although the statues are cast in bronze, they feature
silver lashes and teeth, copper red lips and nipples, and
eyes made of ivory, limestone and a glass and amber paste.
Italy has the world's biggest trove of archeological
treasures but the Riace Bronzes attracted particular
attention.
This was partly due to their exceptionally realistic
rendering and partly to the general rarity of ancient bronze
statues, which tended to be melted down and recycled.
Stefano Mariottini, the scuba diver who first spotted
one of the statues some 300 meters off the coast and eight
metres underwater, said the bronze was so realistic that he
initially thought he'd found the remains of a corpse.
A million people came to see them at various venues around
Italy in 1981 and the pair were featured on a commemorative
postage stamp that year.
The statues pulled in an average 130,000 visitors a year
during their time at the Reggio Calabria museum.

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