CULTURE

New museum for Icaria

Plans for a new archaeological museum in the town of Aghios Kyrikos, on the eastern Aegean island of Icaria (a project run by the Ministry of Culture that was put to tender last December), mark, on the one hand, the successful end to years of negotiations and, on the other, a new beginning for the development of cultural tourism and the promotion of local history on the island. Either way, it is a turning point, because Icaria, which has recently come into the limelight for the discovery, and gradual excavation, of the Drakanos acropolis, is, for the first time, going about trying to display its rich history in a rational manner. The most important part of the project for the local community, however, is the building it is going to be housed in. The old high school is a long neoclassical edifice built in 1925 that educated generations of Icariotes until 1994 when its doors were shut. It was originally constructed as an act of love by a local man who had emigrated to the USA. Icaria, like many other islands in the Aegean, saw the huge exodus of its local population to the USA, Australia and other parts of the world, and many of those emigres made names for themselves abroad and did not return to their island of birth. This was the case with Aristeidis Foutridis (1887-1923), who donated the funds needed to build this impressive school building. Paradoxically, the plans were designed by a Belgian architect who lived on Icaria at the time. All we know of him is that he went by the name of Dupre and that he was responsible for building the Aghios Kyrikos Church as well. Today, the old high school building, located on a small rise in the northwest of the town, is derelict with little charm – its entire east wing having been pulled down for safety reasons. The architects who are in charge of restoring the edifice and transforming it into a modern museum plan to keep the original architectural character of the building. According to architect Christos Floros, who represents the firm Dakanalis-Boubiotis-Floros, «the building can be classified as part of a trend that developed in the late 19th century to introduce monumental neoclassical architecture into school buildings. It is one of the largest of its kind and, despite its simplicity (in contrast to other similar buildings), it is one of the most grandiose of those that remain.»