Fenced in Museum

April 15th, 2016 Sections: Bishkek, Museums
All fenced in ... well almost - Photo: Screeenshot from the Saima Telecom webcam

All fenced in … well almost – Photo: Screeenshot from the Saima Telecom webcam in Bishkek’s main Ala Too Square (14th April, 2016)

Edik came bursting in to the hotel … full of indignation.

Actually, he came to see me for something else … but the news he carried was all he could think about for some time.

“Why are they fencing in the main square?”, he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said and went to look at the webcam set up at the crner of the square to see what he was talking about.

It’s not that clear in the phtograph … unless you know what to look for … but there is a fence being erected along the edge of Prospect Chui as it cuts the square in half.  It’s not yet complete … but it’s there.

The penny dropped and I decided to tease him a little … “Someone in the White House, (the Parliament), has decided that all the kids doing Parkour in the square are a danger and so they’ve decided to put a stop to it.”

He thought for a bit … and decided that this couldn’t be the reason … or could it?  No, he eventually decided that it wasn’t.

“Maybe they are afraid of another revolution and so have erected the fence to prevent large demonstrations,” I tried.

He thought for a bit … and decided that this couldn’t be the reason … or could it?  No, he eventually decided that it wasn’t.

I decided that I had better put him out of his misery and tell him.  “They are renovating the Historical Museum … they’ve closed it and there is going to be a lot of building work going on, equipment and so on … and so they’ve fenced off the aquare while that’s being done.”

He thought for a bit … and decided that, maybe, I wasn’t joking this time … or was I?

“But why do they have to do it now?”, he asked.  I think he was mainly concerned with the loss of favourite place for Parkour … but I think he had a point.  It’s unfortunate timing as the tourist season is upon us and the Historical Museum, (with its plaster statues of Lening and Soviet Fresoes of Reagan riding a missile),  is a favourite spot on the city tour.  The fact that the Museum is going to be closed is a great loss.

In fact the museum closed a couple of weeks ago … The work is being carried out as part of an agreement with the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TICA). In this regard, the perimeter is fenced to avoid hindrances to work.

 The reconstruction will take place in two stages.  The first will last until August 31, 2016 (Independence Day, here in Kyrgyzstan) and will address the lighting of the building’s facade and the adjoining frontal area up to the square.

The three Ruble commemorative coin

The three Ruble commemorative coin

I suppose they had better not change the outside of the building too much … last November the Russians issued a silver commemorative coin with a nominal value of three Rubles in honour of the Eurasian Economic Union.

In the center of the coin is the logo of the EEU … placed in a circle containing fragments of national ornamentations of the member states, (in colour), ringed by images of several buildings – the National Library of the Republic of Belarus in Minsk; the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin and the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow; the residence of the President of Kazakhstan in Astana; the State Historical Museum of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek; and the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) in Yerevan – and an inscription of the name of the organization in Cyrillic.  

Reconstruction of the interior of the museum, itself, will be completed at the second stage.  I am not sure when that stage is due to be completed.

Work on the storage of exhibits and evaluation of the Lenin sculptures, (which, it is claimed were beginning to look dated (… “due to the unfavorable microclimate in the museum” – but I can’t help wondering if that wasn’t just a convenient excuse for moving them), is already being carried out under the supervision of an Russian expert under the auspices of UNESCO.  After the completion of the reconstruction, most of these exhibits will be removed to a separate ‘Lenin’ section.  There was talk at one time of a new building being constructed to huse them … but I haven’t heard anything abut that for some time.

The fence is also limiting access to the square around the stature of Manas and the fountains … and I wonder what plans have been made for the parades on Independence Day and other holidays – the fence cordons off the area in front f the tribune where the President and other honoured dignitaries stand.



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