Riace bronzes, a stamp celebrates 50 years

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By John

Today an Italian stamp was issued commemorating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the «Riace Bronzes»: the stamp – valid for ordinary mail – shows the two statues considered among the most significant masterpieces of Greek art of the 5th century BC, found on 16 August 1972 in the seabed of Riace and kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria. The illustrative bulletin that accompanies the issue of the postal value is signed by Carmelo Malacrino, director of the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria who recalls that the discovery occurred thanks to a young Roman chemist, Stefano Mariottini, during an underwater fishing trip. ”After an initial cleaning operation at the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, the Bronzes were transferred to Florence in January 1975, to undergo a restoration operation that lasted five years. The two statues were exhibited for the first time in December 1980 at the Archaeological Museum of Florence and, before returning to Reggio Calabria, the President of the Republic Sandro Pertini wanted to host them at the Quirinale at the beginning of the following summer. Having arrived at the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, the Bronzes attracted – observes Malacrino – hundreds of thousands of visitors, becoming the main cultural attractors of the area. After the last restoration, carried out between 2010 and 2013, today the two statues are exhibited in a special room, equipped with sophisticated microclimatic control systems and a double filter environment access system, supported by specially designed seismic bases by ENEA”.