Leaky Roof Endangers Ancient Artifacts at Belgium’s Cinquantenaire Museum

The building authority will have "crisis talks" this week.

Cinquantenaire Museum. Photo: Goolge Maps
Cinquantenaire Museum.
Photo: Goolge Maps

To minimize the risk of water damage, staffers at the Cinquantenaire Museum have resorted to using plastic wrap to conceal some of the exhibits. Invasive pigeons are simply shooed away.

A spokesperson for the museum revealed that leaks have been going on for years in a phone interview with artnet News. “There are many places in the museum that have problems with the water and the rain… some have been an issue for five years, maybe more.”

Despite employee safety concerns and building code violations, the Telegraph reports that the museum continues to stay open and has gotten resourceful in attempts to preserve the prized artifacts from the elements.

As admirable as these guerrilla-style quick fixes may be, the museum’s repair issues jeopardize an important collection of ancient relics, which include statues from Easter Island, Roman mosaics, and Egyptian coffins.

Sarcophagi at the Cinquantenaire MuseumPhoto: YouTube

Sarcophagi at the Cinquantenaire Museum.
Photo: YouTube.

Notably, the most recent location of a leaking roof is above a space that the museum hoped to re-purpose into a new gallery for art nouveau objects. But until the roof is fixed, the spokeswoman said, their endowment to fund the new initiative is on hold.

Efforts to change the condition of the museum is largely contingent on the government agency that controls Belgium’s historical buildings. According to the Telegraph, head minister for Belgium’s building authority Laurent Vrijdaghs said that a little over €20 million ($22 million) is needed to ensure that the museum undergoes proper repairs. This sum is in addition to €40 million ($44 million) that has reportedly been granted towards the restoration budget.

Vrijdaghs announced that the building authority will have “crisis talks” this week.


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