January 29, 2004

Controversy over Parthenon Marbles hits Liverpool gallery

Posted at 2:07 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

After agreeing to host an exhibition on the return of the Parthenon Marbles, a Liverpool Gallery has been hit by a storm of protests claiming that they should not be expressing their support for the issue.

IC Liverpool

Marbles row hits gallery
Jan 28 2004
By Mark Hookham, Daily Post

THE Walker art gallery was at the centre of a political storm last night after agreeing to host the launch of a campaign to strip the British Museum of the Elgin Marbles.

The great-great-grandson of Lord Elgin last night said it was “monstrous” for the gallery to host the launch of the Marbles Reunited campaign in the North West.

Organisers of the campaign want to see the treasures removed from the British Museum in London and returned to Greece in time for this year’s Olympic Games.

But the British Museum, which has been backed by the Government, has said it has no intention of handing the pieces over.

Lord Elgin

Lord Elgin, 79, whose ancestor brought the pieces to Britain from the Parthenon in Athens, last night urged Walker curators to “close the doors” on the campaigners.

He believes the 42 pieces left behind in Greece have been damaged and the British Museum is better placed to look after the remaining treasures.

He told the Daily Post: “It’s absolutely monstrous to put a museum in this position.

“It’s rubbing salt into the wounds. My message is to keep their doors locked.

“I’ve been to the Walker gallery and they must have things in there from all over the world.

“I suppose if the argument is to be widened they would have to send some of their exhibits back to their country of origin.

“It does seem very strange that anybody would want to get dragged into this political argument.”

The regional launch of Marbles Reunited, an umbrella organisation which includes British and Greek campaigners, will take place in Liverpool on February 10.

The campaigners have paid National Museums Liverpool £800 to hire The Walker for the event and plan to carry out publicity inter-views in front of rare copies of the Elgin Marbles in one of the gallery’s sculpture rooms.

But museum bosses last night said they were not taking sides in the marbles debate.

Dr David Fleming, director National Museums Liverpool said: “The Marbles Reunited campaign organisers have booked The Walker as a venue for their debate through our normal commercial hire procedure.

“National Museums Liverpool is not involved in the debate about the Parthenon Marbles which is entirely a matter for the British Museum and its trustees.”

Marbles Reunited wants the British Museum to hand over the marbles on long-term loan in time for the Olympics in August. A museum is under construction at the foot of the Acropolis to house the treasures.

In return, the Greek government has promised that other significant treasures will be brought over to Britain for an exhibition which could visit London and regional museums.

Marbles Reunited spokesman Peter Chegwyn said Liverpool could greatly benefit from any new Greek exhibitions to come to Britain.

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