School on Icaria finds new role as museum

Approval has been given for the historical listing of the old high school in the village of Aghios Kyrikos on the island of Icaria, destined to be converted into a museum once the project is included in the European Union’s Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII). There is a time limit for the completion of the project in accordance with the contract for turning ownership of the building over from the municipality to the Culture Ministry for the purpose of setting up a modern archaeological museum funded and run by the state. The building, dating from the early 1920s, was built with contributions from overseas Icariots. It has sentimental value for the local community as it is a symbol of nostalgia for those who have left their homeland. It functioned as a school for decades; generations of Icariots have memories of their days there, apart from its value as an architectural monument in a functional classical style, one of the most important examples of 20th century architecture on the island. The building is destined to house the island’s archaeological tradition, function as a museum and eventually serve as the headquarters for the Antiquities Ephorate. Icaria has a rich history, focusing on the ancient acropolis of Drakano, the restoration of which has been included under CSFIII. «When the work is completed, it will mean the preservation of an important monument and provide a space for archaeological treasures,» said Christina Televandou, the director of the 21st Ephorate for Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. For Aghios Kyrikos, an appropriate use of the old high school is a step in the right direction toward healthy development and highlighting the island’s history, something that could bring economic benefits. Tourism revenue Mayor Spyros Teskos wrote to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (who then also headed the Culture Ministry) in November of last year to emphasize the importance of the issue. «Setting up an antiquities ephorate in the town will help to promote the archipelago and therefore attract foreign exchange from tourism. Also it will help support the local economy and restrict antiquities smuggling on the island,» he wrote.

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