Racing against time for new Fix

It’s official: Attiko Metro has conceded the old Fix factory situated on Syngrou Avenue to the Ministry of Culture for the next 50 years, in order for the building to continue to house the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The news was confirmed by Varvara Belezini, special consultant to the Culture Ministry. «The formalities have been taken care of,» said Belezini to Kathimerini. «All that needs to be done now is for the leasing to be signed, as well as for Attiko Metro to make the official announcement.» When reminded that at the beginning of the year the matter’s solution had been referred to as imminent, Belezini attributes the delays to problems of form rather than substance. «That is why we are handling this as a done deal and we are moving on. In May we announced the ad for the position of the technical adviser, while the architectural competition will be announced by the end of June.» Clearly, Belezini does not wish to waste any time; she is fully aware that leading up to 2004, the site has to be transformed from what is currently a dilapidated building covered by advertising billboards to a museum that has an acceptable appearance. The search for a technical adviser is a positive step, but when looking into what needs to be done in such little time, panic attacks cannot be ruled out. First of all the architectural competition will be an international one, along the lines of that for the new Acropolis museum. All participating architectural companies, therefore, must submit preliminary plans. According to Belezini’s best-case scenario, the competition will be completed by fall, in order for construction to begin by spring 2003. Is a year enough for a miracle to take place? The answer is no, and Belezini is fully aware of it. So is Anna Kafetsi, director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art. «We are aiming to have the building’s shell ready by the summer of 2004, together with the large exhibition space where the ‘Diapolitismi’ (inter-cultures) will take place. We promised this exhibition to the IOC and we must deliver,» said Kafetsi, acknowledging that the pressure will be almost unbearable. «We are going to work hard in order to ensure that what is absolutely necessary will be ready on time.» Kafetsi is confident that one of the preliminary plans that will be submitted will be given the go-ahead by September. For the time being, however, one thing is certain, and that is that the project will be financed by the Third Community Support Framework. Permanent collection Kafetsi also expressed the hope that along with the principal exhibition area, a smaller space will be made available to house the museum’s constantly expanding permanent collection. The news on this issue is promising, given that 400,000 euros has been approved by the Finance Ministry for the purchase of new works this year. Kafetsi is optimistic that by 2004, the museum will present a basic nucleus of works. In the last year alone, the museum bought 90 works by Greek and foreign artists.