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Restoration of Parthenon frieze casts

September 18, 2008

Restoration of Parthenon frieze casts

Posted at 12:58 pm in Elgin Marbles

More information on the casts of the Parthenon sculptures in Edinburgh that are soon to be restored.

From:
The Scotsman

Wednesday, 17th September 2008
College carves out art grant for its forgotten sculptures
Published Date: 17 September 2008
By CATHERINE SALMOND

THEY may have been based on some of the world’s most famous and bitterly contested works of art, but until recently they were gathering dust in a city cupboard.

Now a collection of sculptures, which are one-off copies of the Elgin marbles, are to take pride of place at the Edinburgh College of Art – thanks to a £500,000 makeover.

The casts, which date from the 1830s, are replicas of the 4th century BC marble pieces controversially acquired by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon in Athens.

Many of the sculptures making up the college’s collection have been stuffed in cupboards since the 1930s when they were last used to help inspire the students.

But now, after tutors learned their true financial and historical worth, all 185 pieces are to be pulled out, cleaned and restored thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Collection researcher Margaret Stewart said: “We are absolutely thrilled and are definitely looking after this cherished collection from now on.

“We’re still finding them all the time too, often in cupboards where they were put away for safe storage. We’ve asked staff to keep looking.”

In 1800, British aristocrat Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, bought the works from the Parthenon and brought them back to Britain. Now in the British Museum, the Greek government has called for them to be sent to back to their original home.

When Edinburgh College of Art took the former Royal Scottish Academy site over in 1911, the collection of copies was transferred and for decades students used the casts as a teaching tool. Such practice died out in the 1930s, meaning many pieces have since been in storage.

But, two years ago, students and tutors discovered that the collection included original moulds made in 1804.

Ms Stewart said: “It was an amazing discovery and the British Museum were shocked. We’re all very excited about this and were delighted to get the grant funding.

“I think Lord Elgin was keen to re-establish his reputation when he brought these casts to Edinburgh. Although he was given a lot of criticism, he thought he was doing a good service by removing the features from Athens.

“Nobody knows what may have happened to them under Turkish rule. The Parthenon was after all being used to store gunpowder.”

The college has been awarded £498,500 for the restoration, following an application in April.

* Last Updated: 17 September 2008 10:59 AM
* Source: Edinburgh Evening News
* Location: Edinburgh

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