Anthony Snodgrass – Chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles responds to Simon Jenkins’s earlier article  about the New Acropolis Museum.
The Guardian 
New home for the Parthenon marbles
The Guardian, Tuesday 27 October 2009
I know that Simon Jenkins is fundamentally on the same side as I am, and I’m sure it wasn’t he who chose to put that offensive phrase in his headline (A banana republic police HQ maybe, but not a home for the Elgin marbles, 23 October). But his piece did contain more than its fair share of anti-Greek prejudice. The Greeks were “foolish” to turn down the offer of a loan of the Elgin marbles this summer (a heavily conditional offer, confined to a few pieces, never officially proposed and withdrawn as soon as mooted). They have consigned the excavated ancient site under the new museum to a “surreal dungeon” (unfair: it is to be open to visitors). And Jenkins cannot have it both ways: if the Greeks previously “spoiled their case” for restitution of the marbles by shortcomings in conservation, then he should not be complaining now that the restoration works on the Acropolis are so painstaking.
Anyway, the Greeks have now “gone to the other extreme” with a building that “screams the supremacy of Big Modernism” and looks like “the police headquarters of a banana republic”: Bernard Tschumi’s New Acropolis museum in Athens, which is the real target here. Comment is free, and a whole series of other expert architectural critics have commended Tschumi’s building for exactly the opposite quality – “handsome”, “unassuming”, “minimalist”, “unpretentious” – to what Jenkins detects. Simon Jenkins prefers the interior to the exterior: fair enough, so do many of us. But there was no call to package his criticism in this offensive wrapping paper.
Chair, British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles