Showing results 13 - 24 of 35 for the month of March, 2006.

March 25, 2006

International declaration on the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 9:36 pm in Elgin Marbles

The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is an organisation consisting of a number of separate national organisations for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles formed in Athens last November. They have just released a declaration on the Parthenon Marbles (essentially a statement of the shared aims & intentions of all the members. Currently there are twelve member organisations, but it is hoped that more will join in the future.

The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Declaration on the Parthenon Sculptures
Issued globally on Sat, 2006-03-25 08:00



The sculptures currently in the British Museum were once an integral part of the Parthenon, the temple that stands at the summit of the Acropolis in Athens. Built at the high point of classical Greek achievement in the 5th century BC, the Parthenon remains an unparalleled achievement in the fusion of engineering, architecture and art. The temple’s magnificent marble statues, metopes and frieze, which are not independent works of art but indivisible elements of the Parthenon, are widely regarded as among the world’s finest surviving ancient art works. The Parthenon and the other monuments on the Acropolis are officially recognized as a World Heritage Site.
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March 23, 2006

New Acropolis Museum progress

Posted at 7:44 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

More on George Voulgarakis’s press conference about the progress of the construction of the New Acropolis Museum.


Greek long-delayed Acropolis museum to open in 2007
Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:01 PM GMT17
By Alkman Granitsas

ATHENS (Reuters) – After years of delays, legal wrangles and cost overruns, Greece hopes to open its Acropolis Museum by the end of 2007, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said on Tuesday.

“It is our ambition that by 2007 the museum will be open to visitors,” he told journalists after touring the half-finished building near the ancient hilltop temples of the Acropolis.
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The colour of the Parthenon

Posted at 12:51 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

More on the fact that the Parthenon & its sculptures were once brightly coloured. This is something that has been known for a long time, but recent restoration work has revealed more detail on the range of pigments that were used.
Many archaeologists believe that the cleaning of the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum in the 1930s was responsible for a loss of information on the original colour of the sculptures that could now have been retrieved using modern techniques.


Scientists retrace Parthenon’s brilliant hues
Tests turn up bits of ancient red, green and blue paint on temple
By Heather Whipps

If the ancient Greeks sold kitschy postcards to tourists 2,000 years ago, they would have depicted much different views of the popular sites that visitors flock to today.

Archaeologists say many of the stony ruins looked much different in their prime. Many were brightly painted in hues that have faded with time and, in some cases, with forced removal.
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March 22, 2006

New Acropolis Museum due to open in 2007

Posted at 7:28 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The new Culture Minister of the Hellenic Republic, George Voulgarakis, has made a public statement on the progress of the New Acropolis Museum & Greece’s attempts to secure the return of the Elgin Marbles. In particular, he talks of plans to intensify their campaign for the return of the marbles, as he believes that the international community is now more receptive to such an approach.

Athens News Agency

First exhibition halls at new Acropolis musuem to open in 2007

Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday toured the construction site for the new Acropolis museum, which lies on a tract of land opposite the Acropolis and Parthenon Temple’s south sides.

In comments to reporters, the minister said he was satisfied with the rate of progress at the previously delayed project, with a massive skeleton expected to be in place by next month, whereas a glass dome topping the new museum is expected to be ready by August. A tentative completion date for the first exhibition halls at the 23,000-square-metre facility is spring 2007.
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The absence of Chinese artefacts continues to be questioned

Posted at 12:44 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Some more articles commenting on the lack of Chinese artefacts in the British Museums traveling exhibition Treasures of the World’s Cultures at the Beijing Capital Museum. The British Museum & the Chinese Government say publicly that this is not an issue. The actions that China is taking to recover artefacts from around the world would suggest otherwise though.

The Times

The Times
March 20, 2006
Why China was taken away
by Jane Macartney

CROWDS have been flocking to the first international exhibition at the ultramodern and newly opened Beijing Capital Museum, but they will see no Chinese treasures on display, even though more than 270 items from prehistory to modern times have been brought over.

The exhibition was chosen to show the links between civilisations, the common threads in life whether in Korea, Egypt or England. The absence of Chinese objects means that the British Museum, the world’s oldest, and one of its newest can avoid unpleasantness sparked by any dispute over the rights to Chinese treasures now housed in Bloomsbury.
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March 21, 2006

4000 year old Afghan relics for £40 in London

Posted at 12:57 pm in Similar cases

The destruction of Afghanistan’s heritage by looting is a tragic event, but what is worse is the amount of these plundered treasures that are ending up being traded in cities such as London, in contravention of various laws & conventions, yet little seems to be being done about it.

The Independent

Ancient Afghan relics smuggled into UK
By Terry Kirby, Chief Reporter
Published: 21 March 2006

It cost £40 from an antique market in central London, not a bad price for a 4,000-year-old relic of an ancient civilisation in what is now northern Afghanistan.

What made the metal axe handle – on sale at Mazar Antiques, in Grays Antiques Market, just off Bond Street, alongside knives, rings, seals and bangles – stand out was the fact that it was identical to a collection in the British Museum.
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March 19, 2006

Should museums adapt to a changing world?

Posted at 12:35 pm in British Museum

James Delingpole in The Times has a problem with the way that many museums have now adapted to make them more accessible to the public & sees this as dumbing down. Whilst some of the points are valid, the end result of the arguments seems to be that museums should remain as they always were – static, ever expanding collections – something that seems more & more to go against public opinion in a changing world. Why is it not possible for the two paradigms to exist together – allowing people to see the artefacts for what they are, while at the same time encouraging greater accessibility? Should a museum just be an archive, or is it possible for it to be something more?

The Times

The Times March 18, 2006
Ouch! Is this the direction our museums have to go?
James Delingpole

WHY IS IT THAT so often when I visit a museum these days, I leave feeling ever so slightly cross? I’m thinking, say, of those wretched animatronic dinosaurs that we parents have to queue for at the Natural History Museum, completely ignoring the genuine prehistoric skeletons either side. And of that display cabinet at the National Maritime Museum, where nautical objects have been plonked at random in the same glass case to illustrate a curator ’s trendy post-modern point about the hopelessness of trying to extract meaning from artefacts so far removed from our own time and place.

But, hey, why pick on those two? Pretty much everyone is at it: the exhibition at the Horniman, which proudly claimed, though with no supporting evidence, that voodoo was one of Africa’s “great contributions to world culture”; the Gainsborough exhibition, whose curator presumed to judge the mores of 18th-century society by the PC standards of today; almost anything containing the words “access”, “relevance” or “inclusivity”.
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March 14, 2006

Art to be out of reach of cultural kidnappers

Posted at 12:27 pm in Similar cases

On a fairly regular basis, stories make the news about art on loan to another country that is held hostage there, whether because that country believe that they also have rights of ownership, or by proxy for some other debt. Recently the British Museum was involved in such a case with Aboriginal bark etchings on loan to Australia.
Britain is now planning on implementing new laws to prevent the same happening when art from abroad is in Britain – preventing any groups in Britain repeating the actions of the Dja Dja Warrung tribe in the above case.
In some instances, fear of such a seizure has prevented artefacts being lent to Britain for exhibitions. Similarly though, British institutions are wary about lending to certain foreign countries, as they feel the risk is too high.

The Times

The Times
March 13, 2006
Art is to be out of reach for ‘cultural kidnappers’
By Jack Malvern, Arts Reporter

WORKS of art lent to British museums and galleries are to be protected by anti-seizure laws to prevent them from being used as hostages in trading disputes.

Russian museums have repeatedly refused to lend art to Britain because they fear that aggrieved businessmen will try to claim the works as collateral for Russia’s debts.
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March 13, 2006

Should museums take more care of their artefacts?

Posted at 1:04 pm in Similar cases

Last year, the Daily Telegraph exposed various instance in the last fity years where damage had occurred to the Elgin Marbles whilst they were in the Duveen Gallery at the British Museum.
In January, a visitor to a museum in Oxford tripped & knocked over two Qing vases.
Accidents can happen in any museum, but when they do happen it makes a mockery over any claims that the museum might make about how they should retain artefacts rater than returning them to their countries of origin, as they are better able to preserve them. This fact still applies whether or not the artefact is insured.
Now, after investigation by the Daily Telegraph, the museum in Oxford admits that these vases were not the first instance where visitors had seriously damaged artefacts in their collection.

The Daily Telegraph

Whoops (again)! We didn’t insure £100,000 vases, admits museum
By Chris Hastings and Adam Lusher
(Filed: 12/03/2006)

It was perhaps the most catastrophic “Norman Wisdom moment” in the history of museums and fragile artworks, and it has just got worse.

Things seemed bad enough when a loose shoelace sent Nick Flynn tumbling down a staircase at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The ensuing crashlanding smashed three 300-year-old Qing Dynasty Chinese vases, (estimated value, when not in smithereens, £100,000.)
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March 12, 2006

National Geographic Society believes Yale should return Peruvian artefacts

Posted at 1:05 pm in Similar cases

More on the Peruvian artefacts held by Yale University. Despite sponsoring two of the Original expeditions that took the artefacts, the National Geographic Society (whose own chair is from Yale) think that the university should hand back the artefacts to Peru.
Interestingly, Bingham (who originally acquired the artefacts) always planned on returning them after 18 months.

The Washington News

Peru tries to recover gold from Yale’s ivory tower
By Washington Post
Mar 10, 2006 – 07:04:38 am PST

WASHINGTON — That day dawned unpromising, cold and drizzly, in the jungle foothills of Peru 95 years ago. The guides wanted to sleep in, the colleagues wanted to chase butterflies. But the explorer insisted on pressing deeper into the land of the Inca.

Which way are the ruins? demanded Hiram Bingham, a tall, thin, handsome product of Yale in a battered gray fedora.

The guide pointed straight up the mountain.

They climbed more than 2,000 feet along narrow paths, dodging poisonous snakes, inching across slippery logs spanning a raging river.
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Looting of Afghanistan

Posted at 12:40 pm in Similar cases

The looting of Iraq in the last three years has already been relatively well covered by the international press. However, despite the outcry about the Taliban’s deliberate destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, since the fall of the Taliban a much more widespread destruction & looting of ancient sites has occurred, with many of the plundered artefacts being sold to private dealers in Europe & the USA.

The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times
March 12, 2006
Looted Afghan art smuggled into UK
Christina Lamb

UP TO four tons of ancient Afghan artefacts have been seized in Britain after an unprecedented wave of looting from archeological sites in Afghanistan that has exceeded the plundering of treasures in Iraq.

“All the attention has been on Iraq but this is a far, far bigger problem,” said Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, who heads the art and antiques unit of the Metropolitan police. “Afghanistan is the main source of unprovenanced antiquities into Britain. It’s coming in by air freight, sea freight, DHL, you name it.
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March 10, 2006

Spectator review of Dorothy King’s book

Posted at 12:31 pm in Elgin Marbles

Bearing in mind the comments of some other reviewers, The Spectator has chosen to take a remarkable uncritical view of Dorothy King’s book; The Elgin Marbles.
This review in its description of the book does however introduce a number of inaccuracies – some of which I will summarise briefly.
There is the insistence that Elgin acted as a preservationist – saving the marbles after here were not centuries of careless destruction. Whereas in fact, rather than the continuous destruction that is implied, most damage to the building was limited to a number of isolated incidents. Furthermore, At the time that the first sculptures were moved from the building, Lord Elgin had not yet even visited Athens – making any mention of the impact that the decay of the building had on him hard to justify.
There is a suggestion that the Parthenon was perceived by the Ottomans at that time as a romantic ruin. I think this view of the building is entirely a function of the Picturesque movement in Britain during the eighteenth century – and as such a view that Turks at that time were likely to have entertained.
Some insist that the British Museum is a universal museum showcasing the worlds cultures – however I don’t think that anyone has ever suggested that the ideal location for all cultural treasures is within such institutions – except of course for those institutions themselves.
The article mentions that Elgin received the marbles as a diplomatic gift – a huge distortion of the truth. Through his position as a diplomat, along with bribes to numerous officials he achieved things that others at that time might have been unable – but the sculptures were never offered to him as a gift – moreover, there are no records of his actual permissions allowing him to take anything other than casts, sketches & stones that had already fallen to the ground.
Ruth Guilding suggests that it is indisputable that the pieces Elgin took are better preserved. One only has to look at the recently displayed restored west frieze in Athens to see that this is far from true. Furthermore, many would contend that the original surface of the sculptures in Britain was irreparably removed by the cleaning in the 1930s under the instruction of Lord Duveen.
Lastly, the British Museum does not necessarily see the Elgin Marbles as the greatest treasure in their collections – when they published a list recently of the most important artefacts in their collections the marbles did not even feature.

The Spectator

Stones of contention
Reviewed by
Ruth Guilding

The Elgin Marbles: The Story of Archaeology’s Greatest Controversy
by Dorothy King
Hutchinson, 340pp, £18.99, ISBN 0091800137

The acrimonious debate over the Elgin Marbles, housed in the British Museum since 1816, provides the catalyst for this new book. Ever since Lord Byron libelled Lord Elgin in verse as, ‘the last, the worst, dull spoiler,’ plundering the temple where ‘Pallas lingered,’ homegrown restitutionists have quoted Childe Harold to support the arguments for their return to Greece. John Keats never saw the Parthenon, but his feelings on first encountering its sculptures in London were just as intense. He sat before them in a reverie, staring for hours as they opened the classical world to him. His sonnets written afterwards remind us that these Grecian marbles belong to our national culture too now, as embedded as Cranmer’s Prayer Book or the King James’ Bible.
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