March 24, 2007

More on Greece’s disagreements with the Louvre

Posted at 1:03 pm in Elgin Marbles

More information on the dispute between the Louvre & Greece, that officials from the museum claim are linked to the Elgin Marbles. I’m still unclear where the connection is, unless some significant facts or information from of-the-record discussions has been left out from the article.

Alarab Online (UK)

Row over Elgin Marbles

Greece has refused to lend France’s world-famous Louvre museum an ancient bronze sculpture for its first exhibition dedicated to ancient Greek sculpture – allegedly because the work is too fragile to move.

The Louvre says it is “stupefied” at Greece’s “more than belated” decision not to loan the sculpture after having promised to do so more than two year’s ago – a claim denied by the Greek authorities.

It has been reported that the ancient Greek marble sculptures from the Parthenon were removed from Athens to Britain in 1806 by Lord Elgin and have been on display in the British Museum free of charge since 1816.

But Louvre sources quoted by Britain’s Daily Telegraph believe the Greek authorities are using the bronze treasure as a bargaining chip to pressure on the Louvre into joining Greek calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles.

As a result of the long-running spat over the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece – the Louvre museum in the French capital, Paris, on Tuesday opened the groundbreaking exhibition without Praxitelis’ statue the Ephebe of Marathon.

The row has highlighted the debate over who has the right to hold ancient Greek art.

By 1800 only 50 percent of the original sculptural decoration remained, and Elgin took to Britain about half of this from the fallen ruins and from the building itself.

Sculptures surging from the Parthenon are currently located in ten museums in eight different countries and some important pieces are held in the Louvre and the Vatican museums.

Successive Greek governments have argued for the restitution of the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum and ‘the reunification of a mutilated monument belonging to the world’s cultural heritage.”

A proportion of the sculptures in Athens are currently on display in the Acropolis Museum and Greece has requested the permanent ‘loan’ of all the Parthenon sculptures in London to the New Acropolis Museum which is under construction in Athens.

There is general agreement among archaeologists that the sculptures can no longer be displayed on the Parthenon owing to weather and pollution damage.

The British Museum has argued that the Parthenon sculptures are integral to its purpose as a world museum visited each year by five million people. Maintaining the collection has a didactic purpose, as its shows Greece’s links to other great civilisations of the ancient world, especially Egypt, Assyria, Persia and Lycia, as well as Greece’s “vital contribution” to later civilisations in Europe, Asia and Africa, according to the British museum.

The museum also claims its charter bans it from returning any part of its collections, which it is mandated to protect for posterity.

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