August 12, 2014
Newly released information reveals that one of the way that the British Museum considerd protecting the Parthenon Marbles during the First World War was to fill the room where they were housed with sand. The idea was ditched, because of worries that the walls of the room would not be able to hold the weight of the sand. In the end, the sculptures were instead protected with sandbags in the gallers.
Not that many years later, in the Second World War, when the risk of bombing was far greater, they were instead transferred to disused London Underground tunnels for safety.
British Museum’s battle on the home front during the First World War
Archive reveals how air raids threatened the collection and King George V intervened to stop the building being requisitioned
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 259, July-August 2014
Published online: 30 July 2014
The British Museum’s curator of Oriental prints and drawings wrote what became one of most famous war poems in the English language. Laurence Binyon penned the lines of “For the Fallen” in September 1914 that are inscribed on thousands of memorials: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn / At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.”
Binyon volunteered for military service in 1915. He told the museum’s director: “I know I am not the best material [he was 45], but it does seem as if every man would be wanted before the end.” Binyon worked as a hospital orderly in eastern France in 1916.
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