Cultural Postcards + [Southern Europe]

Italy: Riace Bronzes 'can't be moved' for Milan Expo 2015

The Italian culture ministry on Wednesday said the two world-famous ancient Greek warrior statues called the Riace Bronzes cannot be moved from Calabria to Milan for next year's Expo world's fair. "This puts an end to the debate", it said.

Riace Bronzes 'can't be moved' for Milan Expo 2015
The debate over the possible temporary transfer of the unique 2,500-year-old statues has been raging for months.

Art critic, polemicist and Expo cultural envoy Vittorio Sgarbi led the campaign for the move, arguing they should be at Milan Expo 2015 as a symbol of Italian excellence despite long-stated resistance from Calabrian officials and conservation experts.

Regional authorities have allowed the famed bronzes to tour the country just once, in 1981, to sold-out venues in Rome, Venice, and Milan, a tour in which the statues were seen by over one million people overall.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini set up a committee of scientific experts on September 8 to study what the impact would be if the statues were moved north from their home in the Reggio Calabria archaeology museum.

Heading the committee was Giuliano Volpe, a professor of archaeology at the university of Foggia.

On September 4 Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said moving the ancient Greek warrior statues for next year's Expo made no sense.

"Why move them when I should be taking visitors from Milan to Reggio?" said Renzi.

However, the premier said he was not generally hostile to the idea of moving works of art.

The bronzes spent four years stuck in bureaucratic red tape awaiting restoration and were returned for public display at Reggio Calabria's national archeological museum in December 2013.

Calabria has historically kept a tight grip on the much-loved statues since their discovery by a diver in 1972.

The exceedingly rare bronzes stand two metres tall and are an exceptionally realistic rendering of warriors or gods.

Both are naked, with silver lashes and teeth, copper red lips and nipples, and eyes made of ivory, limestone, and a glass and amber paste.

Source: ANSA [October 09, 2014]