Showing results 25 - 36 of 50 for the month of July, 2008.

July 12, 2008

The British Museum and the Universal Museum

Posted at 6:59 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

I’m getting a sense of deja-vu here, having read another ridiculously sycophantic piece on the British Museum followed by a response by Dr Kwame Opoku who points out the various flaws glossed over by the first piece. Clearly the British Museum’s Public Relations department has been particularly successful in the last few weeks (to the extent of appearing too obvious?). I see no other reason to explain why there should be three such congratulatory articles about their institution in the press in a single week.

The Times

From The Times
July 10, 2008
Let’s all have tickets to the universal museum
It’s pointless trying to work out who owns ancient art objects. We need to share them around the world
Ben Macintyre

The visitors pouring through the doors of the British Museum represent the triumph of an idea born in the white intellectual heat of the Enlightenment – as valuable today as it was 250 years ago when the museum first opened, but now under attack, despite its fabulous success, as never before.

The British Museum is the greatest universal museum in the world. On my first visit there, as a teenager, I remember feeling physically overwhelmed by the sheer scale and variety of the artefacts, art and ideas on display: Mesopotamian relics, Roman statuary, pharaonic carvings, Viking burial treasures.
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Is the British Museum really leading the world?

Posted at 6:53 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The British Museum’s Public Relations department have clearly been successful in securing various op-ed journalists to write about how amazing their institution is & will continue to be.

A response by Dr Kwame Opoku follows after the first article.

The Guardian

How one cultural vision has lessons for the whole world
The British Museum is now our top attraction. If only others would shrug off their deadening ways and follow its lead
Tristram Hunt
The Observer,
Sunday July 6, 2008

According to its director, Neil MacGregor, the monstrous iron gates of the British Museum have only twice in its history had to be closed to the public. The first time was in 1848, for fear of angry Chartist radicals. And the second was earlier this year, as thousands queued for the museum’s Terracotta Army exhibition.

But boast he might as last week the British Museum was named the nation’s top visitor attraction – thrashing Tate Modern, Alton Towers, and even Madame Tussauds. Instead of Nemesis roller coasters and Will Smith waxworks, tourists and Brits alike clearly preferred the Great Court, Egyptian galleries, and blockbuster exhibitions on show at Great Russell Street. And all the signs are that this month’s Emperor Hadrian exhibition will draw even greater numbers.
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More Aboriginal skulls return home

Posted at 6:40 pm in Similar cases

Following on from their successes in Scotland, the Ngarrindjeri have also collected skulls of their ancestors from Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum to be returned to Australia.

It is worth remembering again, that the current reunifications of Aboriginal artefacts only happened after a change in the law allowed many of the countries larger museums to over-rule the anti-deaccessioning clauses in their own charters & return these pieces. Once various key institutions had returned pieces, many smaller museums and galleries followed their example.

BBC News

Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 10:48 UK
Aboriginal skulls returning home

Four Aboriginal skulls, which have formed part of a British museum’s collection for more than 100 years, are to be returned to Australia.

The 19th century human remains were donated to Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum by someone who claimed to have been given them.
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The greatest museum on earth

Posted at 6:34 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The British Museum is currently riding high on a wave of optimism created by rising visitor figures, James Cuno’s book & the news that MacGregor will stay for a further four years. The opening of the New Acropolis Museum later this year though & the unrelenting moral arguments for the return artefacts will still remain as issues that the museum has to confront well after the time when these current issues have become old news.

The Times

From The Times
July 9, 2008
Is the British Museum the greatest museum on earth?
It is Britain’s top cultural attraction, a great new exhibition is on the way and its director is not off to the Met in New York after all
Damian Whitworth

In an age when it can feel as if trash is about to breach the levees and flood the entire cultural landscape, two announcements have offered evidence of the surprising healthiness of the nation’s appetite for the highbrow.

The first was that the British Museum has overtaken Blackpool Pleasure Beach to become Britain’s most popular cultural attraction. In the past year 6.04 million visitors crossed the threshold, trumping Blackpool on 5.5 million and Tate Modern with 5.23 million.
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KKE criticise plans for New Acropolis Museum management structure

Posted at 6:26 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

Predictably (for any who follow Greek politics) the KKE (Greece’s Communist Party) has criticised plans that the New Acropolis Museum should be run any differently to every other museum in Greece – that is to say, they would prefer that there was never any progress, beyond the current self-serving culture of regular strike action that currently holds back development of the country’s museums.

For the New Acropolis Museum to be a truly world class museum though & achieve its goals, things have to change – conceptually is not the same as other Greek state run museums, so why should it have to operate in exactly the same way?

Athens News Agency

KKE rejects PM’s proposal


KKE leader meets archaeologists

In another development, KKE [The Communist Party of Greece] Secretary General Aleka Papariga met on Tuesday with the Greek Archaeologists Society saying afterwards that her party supported the archaeologists’ protest and stands by their side in light of the bill that will be tabled in Parliament and “which, in essence, passes a form of privatisation to the new museum which is being disengaged from the Acropolis.”

Papariga added that in general the sector of excavations and of archaeological monuments “is literally in danger from the most extreme privatisation because, unfortunately, archaeological treasure is also considered in Greece a means of obtaining wealth, a means of tourism and this is unacceptable.”

Has Mary Beard changed her mind on the Marbles

Posted at 6:19 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Following comments on the New Acropolis Museum, various people have suggested that Mary Beard may have changed her mind on the Parthenon Marbles and is stepping down off the fence on the issue.

According to this piece in the Spectator (hardly an unbiased source on the Elgin Marbles issue) the answer is that nothing has changed.

The Spectator

An expert in Athens
Tuesday, 8th July 2008

Mary “Marbles” Beard travels to Greece to view the new Acropolis Museum, and pronounces herself well impressed. But has the trip prompted a change of heart about the fate of Lord Elgin’s famous souvenirs? Not quite.

Given my generally positive reaction, did I think I should get off the fence about the return (or not) of the Elgin Marbles? Well, no . . . It’s going to be one of the world’s great museums, but for me the issue has never been about whether the sculpture was well looked after and displayed in Greece. So this doesn’t change the argument. For me, it’s going to be perfectly possible to love this wonderful new showcase for the Acropolis collection — and still not be sure whether the Elgin marbles should be “repatriated”.

Why the Elgin Marbles should return to Athens

Posted at 6:16 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited, Similar cases

Nicolas Mottas writes about some of the current developments in the campaign to reunite the Parthenon Marbles in Athens, along with some of the reason why it is imperative that this happens.


July 8, 2008 at 07:49:17
Restore the Parthenon Marbles
by Nicolas Mottas Page 1 of 1 page(s)

“We say to British goverment: you have kept those sculptures for almost two centuries. You have cared for them as well as you could, for which we thank you. But now, in the name of fairness and morality, please give them back. I sincerely believe that such a gesture from Great Britain would ever honour your name”. Melina Mercouri, Greek actress and politician, Oxford Union, June 1986.

With pleasure I was informed that the British-based Greek enterpreneur Sir Stelios Hadji-Ioannou is willing to participate actively in the campaign for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles. The case of Marbles reunification’s effort is, less or more, known. Information about the historical backround of the ancient sculptures, their removal from the Athens Acropolis and transfer to London, can be found in various sources, including the internet. On that issue there has been a decades-long concern which is connected with the restoration of the Marbles to their homeland, Greece. However, as it is mostly known, no progress has been done on the issue, mainly due to the continual denial of British Museum’s administrations to discuss such a possibility. Yet, the question still remains: should the Parthenon Marbles return to their natural environment, in the place where they were created, or they should remain in the place where Lord Elgin moved them in the early 19th Century?
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July 11, 2008

The Elgin Marbles on Australian TV

Posted at 5:52 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

ABC Television in Australia has produced a program about the Parthenon Marbles as part of their Foreign Correspondent series.

ABC (Australia)

Greece – Losing their Marbles
Broadcast: 07/10/2008
Reporter: Helen Vatsikopoulos

The Acropolis, framed by the pillars of the Parthenon, is one of the most important ancient monuments in the world – a constant reminder of the glory days of Greece.

“Every Athenian has a difficult life, has to earn a living, but at any moment he can raise his eyes and look at the Acropolis and nothing is so bad at that moment,” says the head of the new museum, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis.
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July 8, 2008

Paulos Tsimas documentary on the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:30 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

This documentary on the Parthenon Sculptures (in Greek language only) aired in Greece a few weeks ago. It contains a lot of very up to date information on the issue including footage of the Cambridge Union debate & the UNESCO conference held at the New Acropolis Museum.

You can watch the film online here.

A transcript of it is also available to download.

Items from the St Clair Archive

Posted at 1:18 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Dorothy King has unexpectedly posted on her blog, photos of a number of items from the St Clair Archive at the British Museum. This archive includes amongst other things, the only surviving translation of the firman that it is claimed permitted Elgin to take the marbles and the first letter from Greece requesting the return of marbles.

You can read her own introduction to the items from the archive (& her reasons for posting them online) here.

A full list of all her posts relating to the archive is available here.

Each post contains an overview, followed by additional posts that show more detailed photos, so that in most cases it should be possible to read the text. It is suggested that if you are interested in studying these items, you download them, in case at some later date they become unavailable.

Scotland hands back Aboriginal remains

Posted at 12:58 pm in Similar cases

Despite setbacks along the way, after ten years of campaigning, the Ngarrindjeri tribe are accepting the return of a number of Aboriginal artefacts from institutions in Scotland. Like many other such repatriations made in recent years, this has only been made possible by a change in the law in the form of the Human Tissue Act 2004.

The Times

From The Times
July 8, 2008
Scotland hands back Aborigine relics
Charlene Sweeney

With a simple but symbolic whorl of smoke, a group of Aborigines began the long-awaited process of repatriating their ancestors’ remains from a Scottish museum to their homeland.

The Ngarrindjeri, who have been campaigning for the return of the relics for ten years, sent a delegation to Edinburgh to accept ownership of six Aborigine skulls from the National Museums of Scotland, and a fragment of a woman’s skull from the University of Edinburgh.
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Stopping illegal trafficking of cultural property

Posted at 12:47 pm in Similar cases

In Mexico, many churches contain valuable artefacts, but because of their remote locations & lack of wealth, they are unable to protect them at all times. These artefacts provide easy prey to looters & often end up in galleries & with private collectors around the world. San Diego Museum of Art is returning one such painting to Mexico & in a lecture, its director has explained what other museums can be doing to try & avoid such situations.

The Daily Transcript (San Diego)

Guarding against illegal traffic of cultural property
By Pamela Bensoussan, ASA
Monday, July 7, 2008

Appraisers, in exercising due diligence – particularly for donation appraisals – must investigate to the extent possible the provenance and legal title of cultural property.
On February 25 the new Director of the San Diego Museum of Art, Dr. Derrick R. Cartwright, spoke candidly to members of the Latin American Arts Committee on an important topic: cultural patrimony and the role played by museums in guarding against illegal traffic of cultural and stolen property.
The talk was particularly interesting in light of recent events surrounding an 18th century Mexican colonial painting, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, purchased by SDMA in 2000.
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