July 11, 2008

The Elgin Marbles on Australian TV

Posted at 5:52 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

ABC Television in Australia has produced a program about the Parthenon Marbles as part of their Foreign Correspondent series.

ABC (Australia)

Greece – Losing their Marbles
Broadcast: 07/10/2008
Reporter: Helen Vatsikopoulos

The Acropolis, framed by the pillars of the Parthenon, is one of the most important ancient monuments in the world – a constant reminder of the glory days of Greece.

“Every Athenian has a difficult life, has to earn a living, but at any moment he can raise his eyes and look at the Acropolis and nothing is so bad at that moment,” says the head of the new museum, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis.

To complement the Acropolis and provide a home for some of the ancient treasures the New Acropolis Museum has been thirty years in planning. It took four architectural competitions and there were many interruptions as construction work often stopped to allow archaeologists to examine ancient foundations on the site.

Some Parthenon Marbles survived the vandalism of Lord Elgin and have been transferred to the new museum. Space has been left for the marbles that currently grace the walls of the British Museum in London.

Helen Vatsikopoulos reports that long running efforts to reunify the marbles have been given a boost by Greek-born British knight, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The shipping and aviation tycoon wants the Greeks and the British to put politics aside and work out a cultural exchange – a swap, or loan.

But the British Museum is cautious of Greeks bearing gifts.

“The difficulty with a loan is if you’re borrowing something you have to accept the title,” says British Museum representative Andrew Burnett “The trustees, couldn’t in law lend something if they thought it would never be returned.”

If Athens’ hopes are dashed by this refusal there is more bad news in store for the Culture Ministry.

The Museum’s Professor Pandermalis wants two buildings between the new museum and the Acropolis, which spoil the visual connection between old and new, to be moved – architects say this means destroyed.

But Greeks are feisty and are rushing to defend one of the rarest examples of art deco in Athens and a rare neo-classical building. The campaign is underway to preserve them and prevent another “Elginism”.

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