Tunis/Tunisia — The Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the European Union (EU) Delegation to Tunisia announced in detail the broad outlines of the refurbishment project of the Carthage National Museum and its surroundings, under the program "Tounes Wijhetouna, notably 3,000 Heritage and Culture Territory," which allocated an estimated funding of €10 million for studies and works in this regard.
During a press conference organised on Monday at the Cathedral of Saint Louis by the ministry and the EU delegation in Tunisia, the project and the restricted competition for the award of the contract for the refurbishment project were announced.
The competition notice will be launched in January 2022 and the receipt of applications is scheduled for March 2022.
Located on the hill of Byrsa, the Carthage site is composed of the UNESCO square, the former Cathedral of St Louis and the Carthage National Museum.
This site is classified by the Tunisian government since 1985 by the decree 1246-85 of October 7, 1985.
The of Carthage National Museum is one of the main Tunisian museums along with the Bardo Museum. It hosts the most important collection of archaeological objects from the site of Carthage since the Phoenician period and offering a synthesis of the prestigious history of Carthage (over 100,000 items). Since the end of the first quarter of 2018, the Carthage National Museum has been closed to visitors. Only the nearby archaeological remains can be visited.
// Bringing a museum back to life and turning it into an innovative and exemplary space and a real living space //
The challenge today is to breathe new life into this museum and to create, through this operation, an innovative and exemplary museum, both in terms of conservation and promotion of the collections, but also in terms of mediation and the quality of reception for visitors.
The project involves three totally intertwined levels of intervention: The refurbishment of the museum buildings in keeping with the applicable regulations and the heritage constraints set out in the program, the achievement of the scenographic project for the permanent exhibition in keeping with the museographic program,
and the upgrading of the urban and landscape context of the museum in accordance with the program of the operation (UNESCO square and its surroundings, external and landscape spaces within the perimeter, the archaeological remains of the Byrsa hill).
// Shedding new light on Carthage from the 9th century to the contemporary period //
The new Museum of Carthage is positioned as a place of interpretation of this history through its different sources from the 9th century BC, the time of its foundation, to the contemporary period.
It will thus shed new light on Carthage, by pursuing the promotion of its glorious periods, in particular the Punic and Roman ones, but also by highlighting elements that are little known to the general public, such as the Vandal, Byzantine and Islamic periods, or its archaeological rediscovery and the promotion of this heritage from the White Fathers until today.
The project area covers approximately 4 hectares. The planned project covers a surface area of around 6,000 m2.
As regards the provisional timetable for the operation, the signing of the project management contract is scheduled for October 2022.
The start of the studies is scheduled for November 2022. Works are scheduled to begin in March 2024, with the launch of the procurement procedure scheduled for January 17, 2022.
In her speech, Minister of Cultural Affairs Hayet Guettat Guermazi insisted on the importance of adopting the protection and development plan specific to the Carthage National Museum, classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, a classification which is under threat due to the urban expansion of the site in recent years. She also specified that this refurbishment project is the first of its kind in Tunisia.
EU ambassador to Tunisia Marcus Cornaro commended the progress of the studies undertaken in this regard, pointing out that the refurbishment operation will henceforth promote the Carthage site in a Mediterranean country that abounds in civilisational, historical and heritage wealth.
He emphasised in this regard, that this major project is one among others supported by the EU to preserve Tunisia's archaeological sites and historical monuments.