June 30, 2009
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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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