Several important museums and archaeological sites across the country have been closed to the public or are displaying only a section of their exhibits due to chronic understaffing, the Culture and Tourism Ministry admitted yesterday. A decision by the ministry to cancel a recruitment drive for 2,584 full-time employees and the expiry of the short-term contracts of another 4,000 staff has left several major cultural landmarks without the necessary guards and administrative personnel to operate normally. According to ministry sources, the recruitment drive was suspended due to «irregularities» in the process. One source remarked, «Everyone had tried to find positions for their children and other relatives.» The ministry issued a list of 22 archaeological sites that are closed to the public and 23 museums which are either completely or partially closed due to understaffing. The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is reportedly operating normally during the week but its entire top floor closes to the public on weekends as the contracts of the guards employed on those days have expired. The situation is even worse at the museums of Delphi and Sparta where there is a shortage of guards for night shifts throughout the week. Other museums affected are the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens and the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki. Several smaller museums on islands have also been forced to shut their doors to visitors. «Virtually all the services are paralyzed and unable to deliver to citizens,» commented the ministry’s general secretary Lina Mendoni.