This post has been corrected. See details below.
In an announcement that marked something akin to an acceptance of reality, a museum in Gori, Georgia, has closed for remodeling as it shifts focus toward also exhibiting the atrocities that colored the rule of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Georgian Culture Minister Nika Rurua stated that his nation can no longer host a museum "glorifying the Soviet dictator," which was first opened in 1937 and includes the house where Stalin was born in 1879, along with more than 47,000 exhibits and personal effects, according to the Associated Press.
The move could be seen as a continuation of the Western-friendly trend in Georgia, which broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Not so coincidentally, many of Stalin's more than 700,000 victims in his brutal policies were ethnic Georgians, along with Chechens, Ukrainians and practically anyone else who could have been considered an enemy during Stalin's reign in the 1930s.
While the planned changes can only be considered positive, it's hard to say whether they can improve a museum that couldn't have been considered a terribly upbeat destination to begin with. As one reviewer wrote on the travel website TripAdvisor, "The Stalin Museum could be easily skipped and the time spent on more uplifting experiences. But it is such an anachronism that may travelers may find strangely compelled to go."
[For the record April 10: An earlier version of this post listed Stalin's year of birth as 1897. He was born in 1879.]
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-- Chris Barton
Photo: A bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin inside a museum dedicated to him in the town of Gori, Georgia. Credit: Shakh Aivazov / Associated Press