Showing results 1 - 12 of 74 for the month of June, 2009.

June 30, 2009

Spurious arguments about the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 8:33 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The author of this article from the Daily Telegraph clearly seen no reason to congratulate the Greeks on the opening of the New Acropolis Museum. Instead, there arguments fall back on old tired incorrect statements about the Parthenon Sculptures.

To correct a few of the most heinous inaccuracies.

  1. Far more than one or two British journalists have written positive articles having seen the New Acropolis Museum – in some cases those who previously objected strongly to the return of the Parthenon Marbles. Whether or not these trips were subsidised is irrelevant – some journalists have a level of integrity that the author of this piece clearly does not understand.
  2. Elgin paid only very small amounts to acquire the Elgin Marbles – most of the cost was in shipping them back to Britain once they had been removed.
  3. As Lord Elgin’s acquisition of the Marbls had dubious legal standing, then it follows that this liability is passed on to Parliament when they purchased the artefacts
  4. The British Government purchased the Marbles through an Acto of Parliament – if there as the political will to do so, then returning them using a similar method should not present a major challenge
  5. Lord Elgin did not act to save the Marbles – from letters he sent, it is clear that his original intention was to use them as decoration on his new home that was being built at Broomhall
  6. It is unclear to anyone apart from the British Museum why the number of visitors who see something & the cost that they pay to see it should be the two most important factors in deciding an artefacts location. These facts are regularly stated, but I have never seen any real justification behind them to suggest how they actually back up the argument for restitution in any way.

These are but a few of the errors.

For a major newspaper to publish an article so full of inaccuracies merely damages its own reputation.

Daily Telegraph

The Elgin Marbles will never return to Athens – the British Museum is their rightful home
The Greeks should erect a statue of Lord Elgin near the Parthenon to express their nation’s gratitude to him for saving the Marbles.
By Richard Dorment
Published: 4:39PM BST 30 Jun 2009

Having built this new museum for the Elgin Marbles, the Greeks have managed to rustle up one or two British journalists credulous or naïve enough to write articles calling for their return. But if anyone thinks the building is ever going to house anything other than the plaster casts that are on display there now, they are hopelessly out of touch with reality. There is virtually no chance that the director or trustees of the British Museum, now or in the future, will comply with this outlandish demand.

Let’s review the facts. Lord Elgin paid the enormous sum of £39,000 to acquire the marbles, and was careful to obtain documents from the Turkish Government approving their removal from Greece, which had then been part of the Ottoman Empire for 350 years. Since Parliament legally purchased the marbles from Lord Elgin in 1816, the British Museum’s title to them is unassailable. The Greeks know this perfectly well – otherwise, instead of pulling this PR stunt, they would be suing Britain in the European courts.
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Motion in the Scottish Parliament supporting the Return of the Elgin Marbles

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

Hugh O’Donnell, a Liberal Democrat MSP has tabled a motion supporting the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in the New Acropolis Museum. This is the second expression of support on the issue to come from the Scottish Parliament in the last week.

Scottish Parliament

Motion Search
Hugh O’Donnell (Central Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats)

The Opening of the Acropolis Museum in Athens— That the Parliament congratulates the Greek people and Government on the opening of the eagerly awaited Acropolis Museum in Athens, which will house artefacts covering the Greek bronze age and Roman and Byzantine time periods; notes that part of the space is specifically designed to accommodate the Parthenon Marbles, and urges the British Museum to enter into negotiations with the Acropolis Museum with a view to returning the Parthenon Marbles to their original home.
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New Acropolis Museum visitor figures

Posted at 7:22 pm in New Acropolis Museum

In the seven days since its official opening, the New Acropolis Museum has already received ninety thousand visitors.

Athens News Agency

New Acropolis Museum visitors

The New Acropolis Museum received 90,000 visitors in the first seven days since its official inauguration on June 20, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras disclosed on Monday.

Speaking during a press conference, the minister said that the cost of the inauguration events, which were attended by several foreign heads of state and government, did not exceed the anticipated sum of 3 million euros, adding that the targets his ministry had set regarding the ceremony were met, especially the coverage from international mass media.
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The museum beneath the museum

Posted at 7:18 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum is not just a museum housing finds from the Athenian Acropolis. Beneath the raised structure of the building, is another exhibit – the archaeological remains discovered on the site during construction & now displayed in-situ.

Wall Street Journal

At the Foot of the Acropolis

What could present more of a challenge than designing a major new building to stand at the foot of the Acropolis, revered as one of the great architectural achievements of Western civilization? That new structure is the €130 million ($182.9 million) Acropolis Museum, which, after more than 30 years in the making, finally opened to the public on June 20. Braving the blazing sun and heat, crowds by the thousands thronged its gates eager to be among the first to explore the museum’s vast collection of sculptures and artifacts from ancient Greece.

Efforts to create the museum began as far back as the 1970s. The last attempt, launched in 2003 under the Swiss-born architect Bernard Tschumi’s leadership, was dogged by years of delays caused by archaeologists and local residents. At first there was public resistance to the design of the museum — whose three-level glass and steel structure was deemed far too modern to complement the classical style of the ancient temple. More delays were caused by the difficulties of transporting delicate exhibits from the old museum atop the Acropolis to the new one below. Now visitors enter the new building by climbing a ramp that faintly echoes the slope up to the Acropolis.
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Greek culture minister rules out legal action over the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 7:12 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

In articles published today, Greek Culture Minister Antonis Samaras appears to have ruled out that any form of legal action will form part of the government’s strategy to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles. It is not clear from this whether or not it is an option that they have seriously considered.

Having seen the success of legal action by Italy in securing the return of disputed artefacts, ignoring this option completely seems like a mistake. Whilst it is clearly not an appropriate solution in every instance, it was only once the Italian Government began proceedings involving various institutions that the restitution claims were taken seriously. If there is no pressure in a claim, it is all to easy for institutions such as the British Museum to hang on to artefacts whilst making little effort to even respond properly to return requests.

The Press Association

Legal fight over marbles ruled out
11 hours ago

Greece’s culture minister said he is not planning to go to court to get back the Elgin Marbles from Britain.

Antonis Samaras says the new Acropolis Museum will boost Greece’s bid for the Parthenon sculptures, which British diplomat Lord Elgin took from the site 200 years ago.
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Nazi art restitution bill likely to become law

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Andrew Dismore’s bill to allow the return of items looted during the holocaust now looks as though it is likely to become law. I would question though whether the problem it deals with is the loophole that it is described as here – to my mind it was very deliberately created part of the regulations governing many museums – although now some of its side effects are becoming less palatable to the public.


House of Commons OKs Restitution Bill on Nazi-Looted Art
Published: June 29, 2009

LONDON—A British bill that, at least in theory, would help return artworks looted by the Nazis to their rightful owners has cleared the House of Commons and now goes to the House of Lords. Members of Parliament in the House say the measure is largely symbolic and may never be used, but they believe it still sends an important signal about correcting an injustice.

Andrew Dismore’s Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill will plug a legal loophole preventing restitution in some cases. The bill covers such institutions as the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum, and it allows the Spoliation Advisory Panel to assess whether a work of art was looted and then recommend to the culture secretary if it should be returned. According to Dismore, a Labour Member of Parliament, the best estimate is that there are about 20 looted items in U.K. museums, although there could be more.

A catalyst for the reunification of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:00 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The issue of the Parthenon Sculptures has been relatively static for many years, despite progress made on many other restitution cases during the same time. What was needed is a catalyst to start the reunification process – something that represents a step forward in the situation. That catalyst has now been created in the form of the New Acropolis Museum.

Agence France Presse

New museum for Acropolis
Article By: Helene Colliopoulou
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 07:57

Greece’s Acropolis Museum was finally unveiled this week, an ultra-modern glass building at the foot of the ancient citadel originally intended to be open in time for the 2004 Olympics.

Designed by celebrated Franco-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, it offers panoramic views of the stone citadel and showcases sculptures from the golden age of Athenian democracy in the fifth century BCE.
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If MPs are returning their ill gotten gains should the government follow suit?

Posted at 12:53 pm in Elgin Marbles

A letter in the Scotsman questions whether following the scandal involving MPs expenses claims in the British Parliament, the government should follow its own lead & return illegally acquired assets too.


Point of view: Return
Published Date: 29 June 2009

NOW that the flippers in the mother of all parliaments are queuing to pay back their ill-gotten gains (your report, 20 June), can they not be persuaded to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece?

George B Anderson
Dunfermline, Fife

Ian Jenkins on why the Elgin Marbles should stay in the British Museum

Posted at 12:50 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Ian Jenkins, a senior curator at the British Museum describes in a radio interview why he believes that the Parthenon Marbles should not be returned.

Listen to the interview here.

National Public Radio (USA)

Britain, Greece Quarrel Over Ancient Relics
All Things Considered, June 28, 2009 · The Parthenon is a national symbol in Greece, but many of the marble sculptures that adorned the temple are in London. The British Museum houses the ancient relics, famously called the Elgin Marbles, claiming it’s better equipped to care for them.

But now, the Greek government has built a state of the art museum — at a price tag of $200 million — and it wants those sculptures back.

The British Museum’s senior curator, Ian Jenkins, tells Guy Raz why the museum refuses to return the marbles to their original home.

The intractable problem of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:46 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

New Europe has published three articles on the Parthenon Marbles. Whilst a lot has changed with the opening of the New Acropolis Museum, current indications are that this has had little impact on the British establishment who are still resolutely looking in the opposite direction pretending not to notice.

New Europe

British Museum thieves: Return Greece’s Marbles
Author: Andy Dabilis
28 June 2009 – Issue : 840

With the opening of the dazzling 180 million Euro New Acropolis Museum in Athens, under the shadow of man’s greatest architectural and sculpted achievement, the Parthenon, the last of all the lame excuses the British Museum has used over the years to keep the marble friezes stolen by Lord Elgin 207 years ago has vanished, and with it, any sense of honour they had, which was none anyway, just as they have no shame. Whatever happened to the alleged British idea of doing what’s right instead of what makes money?

Somewhere, Melina Mercouri, the late, great Greek actress and former culture minister, is smiling about it too because she was perhaps the greatest champion of getting back the precious stones the British referred to as the Elgin Marbles, but which she was the first to call the Parthenon Marbles, shaming the British out of their foxholes. The new museum was her baby too, along with former prime minister Constantinos Karamanlis. But let’s go all the way and call them what they are: the Greek Marbles, even if they will never be returned.
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Global youth initiative for the return of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:39 pm in Elgin Marbles

The World Council of Hellenes Abroad is launching new international initiatives to support the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles now that the New Acropolis Museum is completed.

Athens News Agency

SAE Youth Network global initiative for return of Parthenon Marbles

The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Youth Network announced on Sunday that it was launching a global initiative for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

Youth Network coordinators, who attended a SAE presidium conference in Thessaloniki, announced the launch of three initiatives. Through the use of modern technology, the SAE youth will create an electronic petition that will be addressed not only to the young people of Greek descent, but also to the youth of the countries in which they live.
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June 29, 2009

Scottish ministers support the return of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:31 pm in Elgin Marbles

Whilst the British Government consistently try to avoid dealing with the issue fo the Elgin Marbles, the devolved Scottish Parliament has indicated that it supports their return.


Scots ministers seek Elgin Marbles’ return
Published Date: 28 June 2009
By By Eddie Barnes Political Editor

THE Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece and displayed at the new Acropolis Museum, the Scottish Government has declared.
Ministers say that there is a clear right for the priceless sculptures – currently housed in the British Museum in London – to be returned to their place of origin, where they were removed in 1801 by the British diplomat Lord Elgin.

The pressure for the move has increased in recent weeks after the opening of the Acropolis Museum in the shadow of the Parthenon. Previously, it has been claimed that there was no adequate place to house the marbles.
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