More attention to protection of cultural treasures is necessary

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Public purpose buildings, such as museums and libraries, are seriously underfunded in Lithuania. This endangers not only the visitors but also the treasures that are temporarily or permanently kept in these buildings.

Currently, there are 600 different museums and public libraries in the country but only few of them are equipped with modern and reliable security systems.

According to Giedrius Zaicevas, director of security solutions department at electronic engineering solutions company “Fima”, fire alarm and fire extinguishing systems of most objects that have art and cultural treasures exhibited or preserved are 20 to 40 years old.

“Obsolete equipment is unreliable and outdated both morally and technically. Its maintenance is complicated and expensive because necessary system components are no longer produced,” said G. Zaicevas.

In his opinion, although the situation in the Lithuanian museums, libraries and archives is poor and they are underfinanced, the employees put a lot of effort into protection of treasures and buildings and seek financial support.

Recently, having received finance from the LR Ministry of Culture, “Fima” has installed a fire alarm system of 170 smoke sensors at Kaunas Picture Gallery, possession of M. K. Ciurlionis Museum. Premises of an area of 3800 sq. m were equipped with art treasures’ security alarm – movement sensors and 24 hour duty video surveillance cameras were installed.

“We have come to a decision that it is not worth risking and relying on security-fire alarm system installed more than 25 years ago. After all, we preserve such treasures at the museums that may be valued, though not restored. Moreover, we must ensure the security of our visitors,” said Osvaldas Daugelis, director of National M. K. Ciurlionis Art Museum.

“Fima” has installed analogous systems at the main premises of the museum and Kaunas Historic Presidential House that is in the museum’s possession.

To secure the treasures of National Martynas Mazvydas Library, modern fire extinguishing, fire alarm and security systems were installed 4 years ago. However, only the new building of the library was equipped; the renovation of the old building is still in prospect.

Having implemented security solutions in the above-mentioned objects, “Fima” emphasizes the importance of their subsequent maintenance. “To ensure maximum reliability it is necessary to maintain all the systems regularly and in highly qualified manner after their installation”, said G. Zaicevas.

Kaunas District Public Library is also planning to replace over 30 year old systems with automatic fire extinguishing gas system, security alarm system and fire alarm system. However, still waiting for finance, the library has enough means only for the maintenance of the existent system. It should be noted that it is underfunding that hinders implementation of modern security solutions at most libraries and museums.

“We seek to draw attention to the need for modernizing the existent unreliable security systems. We hope that in the short run security of art and other treasures will be regarded as a necessary investment in public purpose buildings,” said G. Zaicevas.