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Kos Archaeological Museum assesses quake damage

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Among the many buildings on Kos that sustained damage during last week’s 6.6 magnitude earthquake was the Dodecanese island’s archaeological museum. Thankfully, the historical structure built in 1936 survived the temblor but some of its ancient exhibits were less fortunate.

According to a report issued on Monday by the Ministry of Culture, out of the 43 sculptures showcased on pedestals, three headless statues and one bust fell over and sustained minor chips and cracks, especially to parts that has been restored with plaster.

In its initial statement after the earthquake, the ministry had only mentioned “shifts and minor deteriorations, mainly on ceramic vases.”

Nevertheless, the damage was limited.

Curator and archaeologist Toula Marketou was put in charge of drawing up a new exhibition plan after the museum underwent extensive renovation work last year. She told Kathimerini that the plan included earthquake provisions.

The movement of the statues during last week’s quake was precisely that which was anticipated in simulations that led to certain measures being implemented to prevent greater damage.

The aim should now obviously be the restoration of the damaged exhibits but additional steps so that the museum will be even better prepared in the future.

The local office of the Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities is already moving in that direction as a crew of archaeologists, conservators and technicians have thrown themselves into the task of repairing the damaged exhibits and making sure the museum can reopen to the public as soon as possible. Meanwhile, a ministry delegation has traveled to the island to record and coordinate restoration work.

Thanks to its recent upgrade, the museum has become a top attraction for visitors to the island. Its location at the heart of the town, in combination with the introduction of a single ticket that grants holders admission to multiple sites, result in many more visitors taking in the island’s archaeological treasures than would otherwise be the case.