News 24 Jan 13

Albania Activists Slam Museum Mosaic’s Collapse

The Forum for Protection of Cultural Heritage, a Tirana-based pressure group, has accused the Ministry of Culture of doing little to preserve the mosaic on the façade of Albania’s National Museum, which is falling apart.

Besar Likmeta

“Two weeks ago we heard of the destruction of a priceless Onufri fresco and the Ministry of Culture said they could not protect it because it was in a remote village,” Auron Tare, member of the forum told Balkan Insight.

“Are they also unable to protect a mosaic that is in the centre of Tirana?” he asked.

TV pictures on Tuesday showed large chunks from the facade that had fallen into the museum entrance as a result of its degradation.

The massive 440-square-metre Socialist Realist-style mosaic, built under the Communist regime, depicts Albanian history from the Illyrian tribes to the Partisan struggle against Fascist occupation during World War Two.

Arber Kadia, the head of regional agency for the protection of monuments in Tirana, told Top-Channel TV that the mosaic could not be restored.

“We have made a diagnosis of the problems that cause the degradation of the mosaic and produced a plan to slow it down, because, according to experts, its fate is sealed,” Kadia said.

The Onufri fresco, work of the celebrated 16th-century painter, Onufri, was wrecked after thieves armed with axes and knives twice scalped through the painting in the church in the remote village of Valsh in late December and early January.

The looters tried to cut through the plaster of the chapel to remove the aureoles of the saints, but managed only to destroy them.

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