Despite staff anger, the workforce continues to shrink. “No one wants to stay”. The National Archaeological Museum’s employees assure that they cannot continue like this after decades of undermining the workforce “bit by bit”.
“It doesn’t matter which government we have. It is not a matter of colors or ministers, no one has done anything to improve the situation. None! Sick staff will not be replaced and we will lose all our days off because we have to come due to staff shortages,” a guard told La Razón newspaper, a week before the closure of new halls was confirmed due to a lack of guards.
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There is the Greek hall, a hall where the beginning of the Egyptian heritage is displayed, halls where goddesses, gods, heroes and heroines recall the sacred prehistoric times when mortals and immortals lived together and shared their fate. There is a burial chamber where visitors will find a recreation made with original artifacts from the XXI and XXII dynasties. Sarcophagi, canopy vessels, ushabtis or funerary figurines, toiletries, necklaces… Sculptures, jewelry and coins bearing the names of some pharaohs, sandals, jewelry, household utensils and weapons. The objects tell how the daily life of these people looked and must have developed. The people left behind fabrics and beautiful examples of alabaster and ceramics, especially those made in Nubia. All these fascinating objects will soon be out of sight as there are no more people to guard them.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there were still six employees per zone at the museum. It sounds like a long-gone utopia today. Now employees feel privileged when two people are in the same zone.
The part of numismatics (“The coin, something more than money”) is “temporarily closed”, so states a text on the door without further explanation. “Just painted”, reads another text on the stairs, where there are no signs of any kind of renovation. The halls in the Middle Ages and modern times are also closed. “And the replica of Altamira can no longer be visited,” notes the staff.
Complaints from visitors
The fact that these “favorites” are closed leads to complaints from visitors that end up with the MAN. They pay admission and don’t get to see half of it. The cafeteria is also closed. Visitors cannot even go to a vending machine for at least a bottle of water.
“one time situation”
La Razón asks the Ministry of Culture for an explanation and whether there will be a solution. The answer: “This is a one-off situation while the selection processes are finalised, which will enable staff to be hired”. When asked if there is a deadline, as the existing staff are overworked and are afraid of closing more premises, only silence follows.
The Ministry of Culture administers the 16 state museums. “The staff shortage is constant in all these museums,” the unions confirm: “People leave because there is no one who stays in a state museum, and those who stay are doomed. And while we have two shifts in the Archaeological Center, that is not the case in most centres.”
MANDEN is just a representative example of the standard in all cultural centers that depend on the Ministry of Culture. The twenty museum guards who have left their posts this week (looking for another, more “comfortable” position in the public administration) are another drop in the ocean.
The ministry has issued a new call, with which around 90 employees are expected. Pending the reactions to this, the reality is that halls have to be closed due to an extreme shortage of hall attendants.