This review of the British Museum aptly describes the Parthenon Sculptures as “Most Contentious Artefact of all time”. While this is currently the case, it does not need to continue this way. They are notorious because of the actions of Elgin & the continued retention by the British Museum – something which distracts from being able to see them as works of art in their own right.
The British Museum
A few steps north of Soho this huge and entrancing museum tells the history of the world through the medium of stolen or borrowed artifacts, snaffled up by British explorers in the 18th and 19th century and preserved forever in this magnificent British setting.
The award for ‘Most Contentious Artefact of all time’ is held by the Elgin Marbles which adorn a purpose built section of the Museum. There’s also a fabulous collection of Mummies and other Egyptian treasures stolen with equal audacity, including the Rosetta stone which is worth a look – a translating tool that looks like it fell out of the hold of a space ship. If you feel like moving beyond the more popular rooms, then have a look at the trove of Saxon treasure, including intricate gold work from our own shores.
There is a hell of a lot to see in the museum and although it can be nice just to potter in and get a feel for a couple of rooms, if you want to get to grips with chunks of the collection the guided tours are excellent at £8 or £5 for students.
A wonderfully laid out and rich museum that fills you with respect for the art and ingenuity of the ancients.