Spain is already Europe. After a month organizing a truck full of first aid to Ukraine, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) of Spain has collected dozens of materials donated by many other museums to save Ukrainian cultural institutions threatened by Russian bombing. Since Vladimir Putin’s Army began the invasion, French, German, Polish or Italian museums have sent truckloads of aid to save the collections of museums, libraries and archives. “They still need our help. It has been ICOM Ukraine that has asked us and they have drawn up the list of materials that they still need. The country is still at war and heritage is under threat”, explains Teresa Reyes, president of ICOM Spain. The truck will leave the last week of June and Reyes says that it is very likely that they will have to send a second vehicle.
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The most complicated thing so far has been to cover the cost of renting the truck. This Thursday Reyes has closed an agreement with Correos by which the public company will be in charge of transport from Barcelona to the Polish border with Ukraine. Hangars have been set up to collect these materials for the protection of Ukrainian property. Teresa Reyes has convinced donors and sponsors and has created in a few weeks a material transport network, with six collection points throughout Spain from where they are sent to the Barcelona city truck. The collection in warehouses and subsequent transport of these materials to Barcelona is carried out by specialized companies such as SIT, TTI or Edict.
The person in charge of the operation informs elDiario.es that the entities that have collaborated are the Guggenheim Museum, the municipal museums of Elche, the Museum of America, the Costume Museum, the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain, the Museum of Badajoz, the Museum of Archeology and Prehistory of Cantabria, the Andalusian Studies Center Foundation, the Association of Museologists and Museographers of Andalusia, the General Subdirectorate of Fine Arts of the Community of Madrid and the company Arte y Memoria, dedicated to conservation tasks. The list misses the help of the great Spanish museums and the Ministry of Culture.
300 fire extinguishers
All of them have contributed more than 50 wooden packaging boxes, packaging material such as bubble wrap, blankets, cardboard and plastic boxes, several laptops… And the great contribution of 300 fire extinguishers made by the company Iberext. Its CEO is Pedro Moreno, son of the founder 33 years ago of the company with 300 workers. He says that each year they invest 1% in social aid, that during the COVID-19 pandemic they also delivered materials to hospitals and residences and that in this case they asked for fire extinguishers to put out the fires caused by Russian bombs on museums. “They asked us for multipurpose ABC powder fire extinguishers, capable of putting out all types of fuel. The only drawback is that the dust permeates the entire environment and is corrosive. In this sense, the water puts out the fire and does not harm the rest”, explains Moreno. The investment of his donation amounts to just over 5,000 euros. Along with the fire extinguishers, special packaging must be added so that they can withstand the journey without moving and vertically.
The Professional Association of Museologists of Spain has been dissolved and the money they had in the treasury has been donated to the initiative. Teresa Reyes explains that in two weeks they have raised 2,000 euros with two possible destinations: more purchase of safeguard materials for cultural institutions or an income to help refugee museum professionals in Spain, so that they can survive three or four months. The destination of the money will be decided by ICOM Ukraine.
“I am very happy that we were able to respond to our colleagues in Ukraine. People really wanted to collaborate with them”, says Teresa Reyes. “Our two trucks will be a grain of sand, but they will add to the impotence of a diplomacy that cannot stop the war,” Jordi Tresserras, president of the Spanish Committee of ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites), explains to this newspaper. Tresserras is currently in Krakow (Poland), celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in Europe, where the “achievements and challenges” of this half century of world heritage protection are being examined. . He says that the Polish Ministry of Culture has invested one million euros in aid to Ukrainian museums and has sent 126 pallets loaded with materials to save public collections. The possibility of making private donations is still open on the ICOM Spain website Until 16 June.