Whither the Riace Bronzes?

Last August we read that the Riace Bronzes would (finally) be back on display “in time for Christmas” (Riace Bronzes Back from Vacation Soon) but the Art Newspaper gives a somewhat different impression today … some excerpts:


Reggio Calabria’s Museo Archeologico Nazionale has been mired in controversy since renovation work began in 2008. This include external structural renovations and interior remodelling and decoration. With an initial budget of around €11m, work ground to a halt just over a year ago after €23m in total had been spent on the project. The region has managed to find an extra €6m from central government, and says an additional €5m could come from European funds.

The biggest problem appears to be the refurbishment of the museum’s interiors, which has been the subject of disagreements between the Soprintendenza, the regional arm of the ministry of culture that runs the museum, and the project consultants.

Felice Costabile, a celebrated academic from Reggio Calabria who was appointed by the ministry of culture as the chief consultant on the project, says visitors will be frustrated by the proposed exhibition route, which will force them to start from the third floor and work their way down to the main exhibition halls on the ground floor. He adds that there are only two lifts available to take visitors to the third floor, each of which can only hold nine people.

His plan to use the internal courtyard to display monumental pieces of Greek and Roman architecture has also been thwarted by the officials’ decision to use the space as a bookshop.

But Simonetta Bonomi, the superintendent of Calabria’s cultural heritage, is adamant that the new visitor route is the best option. Meanwhile, Giuseppe Scopelliti, the president of the region of Calabria, says he believes the museum will reopen in December, but with an estimated shortfall of at least €5m. The likelihood of this happening has been met with widespread scepticism.

Meanwhile I’m sitting here thinking they probably could have paid for the renovations if they had sent the boys on tour (especially outside of Italy … apparently there was a big backlash when they suggested putting them on display in Florence again) back when renovations began … someone over there didn’t think this through …

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