Museum’s demolition raises anger in İzmir
İZMİR - Doğan News Agency
İzmir’s Kyme Archaeology Museum and Excavation House is being emptied by Aliağa Municipality on the grounds that the building is unsafe. But city planners claim the reports are false, accusing officials of attempting to cash in on land speculation.Controversy is growing over the closure of the Kyme Archaeology Museum and Excavation House in İzmir’s Aliağa district, with municipal authorities saying a new building to be constructed on the site of the present, allegedly unsafe edifice will not continue to host the museum.
“The transportation of the artifacts here should be made according to some rules. A crime is being committed here,” İzmir Chamber of City Planners Chairman Ahmet Tuncay Karaçorlu said Feb. 22 about the museum, which is home to 3,000 artifacts from the area.
“The artifacts are being transported by unofficial people. The shelter is not suitable for these artifacts. It is a depot. We will file a criminal complaint against all these operations. There are attempts to destroy the museum building with false reports, claiming that the building is not safe, and new structures will be built there to earn unearned profit. There is an attempt to destroy the historic tissue of the district for the sake of industrialization. I call on the people of Aliağa to protect their museum.”
But Aliağa Mayor Serkan Acar dismissed the concerns, ordering workers to empty the building on the grounds that the building was unsafe.
“We have made the necessary examinations. The building is not safe; it is in danger of collapsing. We have also had talks with the Culture Ministry and are moving the artifacts to an appropriate place. When the move is done, we will demolish the building,” he said.
Acar did not clarify what would be established in the place of the museum, saying, “We will make this decision later.”
Municipality long after land
The idea for the construction of the museum and excavation house emerged in 1995 under the initiative of Aliağa’s then-mayor, Hakkı Ülkü, and Sebastiana Lagona, an academic at Italy’s Catania University, who worked as the head of the excavations in the ancient city of Kyme for many years.
The area, which was previously assigned to the Culture and Tourism Ministry, was given to the Aliağa Municipality for the construction of an open-air archaeology museum in 1996. The area was rearranged by famous Italian architect and archaeologist Roberto Parapetti in order to meet all the needs of a museum and an excavation house.
The foundation of the construction was laid in 1997 and finished in two years, on Feb. 5, 1999.
In 2004, the new Aliağa mayor, Tansu Kaya, proposed moving the museum out of the building and turning it into a municipality building, but the suggestion did not acquire ministerial approval. The ministry rejected a similar proposal by Kaya’s successor, Turgut Oğuz.
In the meantime, Lagona left her mission in the ancient city and was replaced by a colleague at Calabria University, Antonio La Marca.
La Marca and Oğuz reportedly signed a contract to empty the museum, but the plan was not brought to fruition.
The Chamber of City Planners official, meanwhile, said he had written a letter to Lagona, asking her to return in an effort to stop the process.