June 15, 2009

Former Australian Prime Ministers call for reunification of Elgin Marbles

Posted at 9:17 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

With only days before the New Acropolis Museum opens, two former Australian Prime Ministers have reiterated their long-standing support for the reunification of the Elgin Marbles to Athens.

Sydney Morning Herald

Old political foes call for return of lost marbles
Anthony Stavrinos
June 14, 2009

FORMER prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser have united behind fresh efforts urging Britain to return the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.

They are co-patrons of Australians For The Return Of The Parthenon Marbles (ARPM), which renewed its call for the artefacts’ return as Greece prepares to officially open the Acropolis Museum.

More than 100 marble statues and sculptured fragments were stripped from the temple 200 years ago by the then British ambassador Lord Elgin. For decades, those items, also known as the Elgin Marbles, have been housed in the British Museum.

“There are few cultural objects that have the same significance and meaning as these magnificent sculptures from the high point of the classic age of Greece,” Mr Whitlam said.

“The Parthenon sculptures are unarguably among the world’s most important surviving art works. The new Acropolis Museum gives the British Museum the opportunity of righting one of history’s great wrongs.

“There is no longer any justification for keeping the collection in the Duveen Gallery at the back of the British Museum now that the sculptures can be reunited and exhibited with the other surviving statues of the Acropolis.”

David Hill, the former ABC managing director turned archaeologist and author who is leading ARPM, said: “It is terrific that these two great political foes have joined so solidly together to help our fight on this important issue.”

Mr Hill will be Australia’s representative for the launch next weekend in Athens of the Acropolis Museum, which has been designed to exhibit all of the surviving 2500-year-old Parthenon sculptures.

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