Quote of the Day

More damage was done to the Parthenon in 1801-2 than in the previous 2,200 years.

Melina Mercouri, Former Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture

July 26, 2004

Universal Museum?

Posted at 11:11 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

For some time now, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has argued the concept of a universal museum. It is a concept dating to the age of enlightenment & the founding of the British Museum. He uses this argument to justify the retention of a large number of disputed artworks from around the world, while ignoring the notion that there are other museological paradigms as well as that of the universal museum. The universal museum should not be somehow sacred above all other modes of operation. The world has moved on in many ways since the age of enlightenment, but many of the world’s museums seem reluctant to move with changing times. Why shouldn’t they instead be the first to lead the way, to create a new era of co-operation between museums, of a networked knowledge & co-existence in much the same way as the internet has transformed the ways in which academic institutions can now work together (although we should not that all to often, as with museums, this is merely the potential, rather than what necessarily happens).
Moreover, although the British Museum might be seen by MacGregor as a universal museum, at present there is little in the way of guidance there to help the visitor to understand it in this way, rather than as a series of unrelated galleries.

The Guardian

Saturday July 24, 2004
The Guardian
The whole world in our hands
Controversy over ownership of its treasures obscures the British Museum’s purpose. By offering everyone insights into cultural history, argues its director Neil MacGregor, the museum promotes a greater understanding of humanity

For many, the icon of the British Museum is the Rosetta Stone, that administrative by-product of the Greek imperial adventure in Africa. But I want to begin with an object from the other end of the continent. It is a chair, pieced together from fragments of weapons decommissioned in Mozambique after the amnesty that ended the civil war in 1992, by the artist Kester as part of the project Transforming Arms into Plough Shares. It’s almost the first thing the visitor now sees when entering the Africa Gallery at the museum and it is, I think, for any viewer, a disconcerting and thought-provoking object.
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July 20, 2004

The story of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:22 am in Elgin Marbles

An article from the International Herald Tribune on the Parthenon Marbles, prompted by the Olympics.

International Herald Tribune

Monday, July 19, 2004
The Elgin Marbles
The Greek government is using the spotlight of the Olympics to press its case for the return of the Elgin marbles, now housed at the British Museum in London. Once an adequate exhibition space is ready in Athens, the museum’s trustees ought to restore these treasures to their rightful home.

The poet Byron did not think Lord Elgin, the British minister in Constantinople, had the right to remove the marbles from the Parthenon and take them to London in 1806.
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July 13, 2004

They’ve lost their marbles, and they want the world to know

Posted at 1:50 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The Boston Globe has an in depth article about the Greek case for the return of the Elgin Marbles in the lead up to the Olympics.

Boston Globe

They’ve lost their marbles, and they want the world to know
Greek exhibit presses Britain to return Parthenon sculptures
By Charles M. Sennott and Sarah Liebowitz, Globe Staff And Globe Correspondent
July 12, 2004

ATHENS — Art exhibits often have missions or political statements. But the goal of an exhibit opening next month at the Parthenon, the jewel of Athenian art and culture, is more specific than most: It is intended to provoke London’s British Museum into loaning its Parthenon sculptures to Greece.

Timed to coincide with the millions of tourists flooding into Athens for the Summer Olympics, the exhibit, which is expected to open Aug. 2, has been assembled to starkly illustrate what the Greeks see as an injustice. It occurred in the 19th century, when the British Lord Elgin and his team of excavators hacked nearly half of the marble sculptures and friezes off the Parthenon and toted them back to London, where they are housed in the British Museum.
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June 29, 2004

Reebok creates modern interpretation of Parthenon frieze

Posted at 9:08 pm in Acropolis

A part of their advertising campaign for during this summer’s Olympics in Athens, Reebok are creating sculptures of a number of Athletes posed to match the figures depicted in the Parthenon frieze.
It is a shame that this publicity for the frieze manages to completely ignore the division of the sculptures between two countries – a fact that is the only reason that the most people have even heard of the frieze.

The Running Network

Reebok “Freezes” a Moment in Athletic History With Modern-Day Versions of Athens’ Parthenon Friezes
June 28, 2004
From press release

London, UK (June 16, 2004) – To celebrate the Summer Games returning to their ceremonial Athenian home, Reebok will unveil sculptures of several premier athletes in poses reminiscent of the legendary Parthenon Friezes. Some of the most famous works of art, the Friezes were carved in Ancient Greece and adorned the famous Parthenon on the Acropolis. Sculptures of top Olympians Andy Roddick, reigning US Open Champion, Yao Ming, NBA superstar, and Carolina Kluft, World Champion heptathlete, will mirror the famed Parthenon Friezes. The Friezes will be unveiled on August 22nd at a special press event at the Reebok Center in Athens.
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June 26, 2004

Scottish museum to return Maori heads

Posted at 11:06 am in Similar cases

Following the return of the ghost-shirt to the Lakota Sioux Indians a few years ago, another Scottish museum has agreed to return the preserved heads of three Maori warriors to Wellington, New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald

Maori win return of preserved heads from Scottish museum
1.00pm – By PAUL KELBIE

The preserved tattooed heads of three Maori warriors which have been hidden away in a Glasgow museum for decades are to be returned to their homeland.

The grisly relics of Britain’s imperial past were kept under lock and key at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
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London mayor backs return of Elgin Marbles

Posted at 10:56 am in Elgin Marbles

Ken Livingstone, the current mayor of London, has publicly stated that he backs the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

Macedonian Press Agency

FRIDAY, 25 JUNE 2004
London, 25 June 2004 (14:36 UTC+2)

London’s Mayor Ken Livingston stated, during a special ceremony held in the London City Hall yesterday on the occasion of PASOK President Giorgos Papandreou visit within the framework of the efforts for the promotion of the Olympic Truce, that his views on the issue of the Marbles are very clear, stressing that he believes that it is right for the Parthenon Marbles to return to the place of their heritage.

The Mayor of London expressed certainty that the Athens Olympic Games will enjoy an unbelievable success and stated that he is proud because he will have the chance to represent London in this great event.

June 25, 2004

The real story of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 11:00 am in Elgin Marbles

A new BBC documentary on Saturday 26th June will take a fresh look at both sides of the case for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

BBC News

Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
The real story of the Elgin Marbles
By James Bregman
BBC News Online entertainment staff

The age-old controversy surrounding the Elgin Marbles is likely to re-emerge this year when the Olympics taking place in Athens.

The marbles – depicting gods, men and monsters – were removed from Athens’ Parthenon in 1811 by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire that controlled Greece at the time.
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June 23, 2004

Acropolis restoration will miss the Olympic deadline

Posted at 11:27 am in Acropolis, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Many people will disappointed that the ongoing restoration works to the Athenian Acropolis will miss the completion deadline of the forthcoming Olympics. However, it is far better that the restoration works are carried out correctly & not rushed, rather than artefacts being possibly damaged in the race to give the impression that the works are completed by a specific date (a date that was never known about when the restoration works began).


Athens treasures will miss Games deadline
Tue 22 June, 2004 05:02
By Daniel Howden

ATHENS (Reuters) – Visitors to August’s Athens Olympics wanting to see classical treasures such as the temple of Athena Nike or the northern colonnade of the Parthenon will have to make do with buying picture postcards instead.

Construction workers stalk the dusty halls of some of the city’s finest museums while priceless sections of the Acropolis have been dismantled and taken to the cleaners.
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Greece & Britain spar over Marbles

Posted at 11:19 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Prompted by the forthcoming Athens Olympics in August, Voice of America has an article on the reasons for & against the return of the Elgin Marbles along with a look at some other similar cases.

Voice Of America

Olympic Controversy: Britain and Greece Spar Over Marbles
Megan Parlen
22 Jun 2004, 15:25 UTC

As the summer Olympics in Athens approach, the ongoing campaign by the Greek government for the return of some ancient sculptures held by the British Museum is back in the spotlight. The disagreement over the sculptures is one of many such disputes around the world.

Visitors to the British Museum discuss the controversy, just outside the hall where the sculptures are displayed.
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New book looks at the meaning of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 11:11 am in Acropolis

Robert Bowie Johnson Junior has published a new book about his own interpretation of the meanings behind the Parthenon Sculptures. It is worth noting here, before you read the book, that his views are not generally accepted by most of the archaeologists / classicists. If it is like his other previous books it is an interesting read in parts, but you ought to also read some other books on the meanings of the sculptures to give you a more balanced opinion of the range of possible interpretations.

PR Newswire

New Book Deciphers Meaning of Parthenon Sculptures
Purpose of Athena’s Temple in Athens Understood for First Time in More Than 2,000 Years — Noah Depicted in Ancient Greek Art

ANNAPOLIS, Md., June 23 /PRNewswire/ — Visitors to the Parthenon in Athens and to the British Museum in London, where most of the Parthenon sculptures are displayed, can now do more than “ooh” and “aah” at what they see: they can actually understand what the Greeks were telling us about themselves and their history. The newly-released book from Solving Light Books, “The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble,” by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. deciphers the meaning of the sculptures of Athena’s temple, relating their messages to the early events described in Genesis. Read the rest of this entry »

June 20, 2004

Parthenon Marbes must be returned

Posted at 11:50 am in Elgin Marbles

A follow up by the Macedonia Press Agency to Neal Ascherson’s article in the Observer.

Macedonian Press Agency

MONDAY, 21 JUNE 2004
Thessaloniki, 21 June 2004 (14:17 UTC+2)

The exile of the Parthenon Marbles must end writes famous Scotch journalist and author Neal Ascherson in an article on the British newspaper “The Observer”.

He underlines that Britain has no arguments to confront Greece’s demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
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Dorothy King speaks about against the return of the Marbles

Posted at 11:42 am in Elgin Marbles

Billed as the Female Indiana Jones by her publicists, archaeologist Dorothy King has made a name for herself as a vocal opponent of the campaign to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Fortunately there are many prominent figures in the academic world who disagree strongly with her opinions & theories on the subject. Dorothy King’s comments on the sculptures appear in a BBC documentary on the Marbles next weekend.

The Guardian

Marbles expert: Greeks are like abusive parents
Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday June 20, 2004
The Observer

It is Europe’s longest-running cultural heritage dispute, yet the row over the rightful home of the Elgin Marbles is still so hotly contested it will almost qualify as an Olympic sport in Athens this summer.

Undiplomatic comments made by a British archaeologist in a new BBC documentary on the subject will now take the temperature of debate still higher. Dr Dorothy King, a supporter of the British Museum’s position on the ownership of the marbles, has offended members of the Greek community in the UK by comparing the would-be custodians of the Parthenon frieze to abusive parents.
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