Getty Foundation grants $60 000 to stabilise mosaics at Bulgaria’s Buzludzha monument

The vulnerable mosaics, among the largest modern wall mosaics in Europe, in Bulgaria’s Buzludzha monument will be stabilised with a Getty Foundation grant of $60 000, the Foundation said in a media statement.

The Getty Foundation in Los Angeles has awarded 13 grants totaling $2.2 million to support significant modernist buildings as part its Keeping It Modern architecture conservation initiative.

In 2019 the same program awarded $185 000 to the Buzludzha monument for the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan, which is on track to be completed by the end of 2020, the statement said.

So far, detailed structural and technical analyses have been conducted.

These investigations revealed that it is possible to preserve the building and that the first urgent action is the stabilisation of large mosaic panels on its interior walls. They are highly endangered and need urgent intervention to prevent their irreversible loss, the media statement said.

Following this research, Buzludzha was awarded a further $60 000 for mosaics preservation. The activities will start in August and should be completed by October 2020.

The project is coordinated by the Buzludzha Project Foundation under the supervision of ICOMOS Germany and with the participation of restorers from five European universities: National Academy of Art in Sofia, Academy of Art in Plovdiv, Technical University of Munich, Bern University of the Arts and the University of Fine Arts in Dresden, as well as the non-governmental organisation Diadrasis from Athens.

Construction of the Buzludzha monument began in 1974 under Bulgaria’s communist regime, and it was named the Monument House of the Bulgarian Communist Party. It was officially opened in 1981, but abandoned in the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall and of Bulgaria’s Zhivkov regime.

Photo: Les Johnstone

The Buzludzha monument is state property and is managed by the Regional Administration of Stara Zagora. It attracts international attention as one of the most iconic and significant buildings of modernism in Bulgaria and in Europe. Its 937 square metre of exquisite wall mosaic is one of the largest modern mosaics in Europe, the statement said.

The architect of the monument, Georgi Stoilov, said: “The best artists in Bulgaria have worked together for years. At Buzludzha we achieved full synthesis between architecture and fine arts.”

Fifteen recognized Bulgarian masters of art, including Yoan Leviev, Dimitar Kirov, Ivan Kirkov, Dimo Zaimov, Teofan Sokerov and their teams installed more than two million mosaic stones one by one. Some of the stones did not survive the severe weather conditions, but the protection of the existing majority is the target of this project. 

Photo: Romain Veillon

Meanwhile, as part of the Conservation Management Plan, the campaign “Buzludzha’s Unwritten Stories” is running until the end of August.

The purpose is to document the knowledge about the monument, to tell what its meaning was for people’s lives and to create a dialogue between the generations because the conversation about the future of the building inevitably begins with a conversation about its past.

“Everyone is invited to join the project by telling their personal Buzludzha story,” the statement said.

(Main photo: Darmon Richter)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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