Cypriot history showcased in a well-timed exhibition

Coinciding with Cyprus’s signature of its accession treaty to the European Union last week, a timely exhibition of paintings, rare publications and garments was inaugurated at the Byzantine Museum last Tuesday. The show, «Travelers in Cyprus: 1700-1960,» which is jointly organized by the Culture ministries of Greece and Cyprus, showcases items from the Costas and Rita Severis Collection, while at the same time putting across an important cultural message that through the accounts of travelers, it is clear that all the peoples living on the island did so peacefully – up until some years ago. The exhibition reveals a rarely seen side of the island’s cultural crossroads and offers the impressions of travelers who visited during the Turkish occupation, and other periods. In the last 20 years, Rita and Costas Severis have gathered more than 600 items that can be traced back to the island’s various nationalities. Included in the 350 items currently on display at the museum are Turkish-Greek costumes and British military uniforms as well as paintings depicting daily life. The Severis couple travel the world and attend major auctions in search of historical Cypriot pieces, while they also find rich material back home. Recent finds include two impeccably preserved wedding gowns, found in an old house. The collection – shown for the first time off the island – will ultimately be housed in the old garrison headquarters in Nicosia. Byzantine Museum, 22 Vassilissis Sofias, tel 210.729.4926. Show runs to June 1.