Quote of the Day

There is nothing to equal it in the architecture of the entire world and all the ages; the plastic modulation of the Parthenon is flawless, ruthless. Its austerity goes beyond what we are accustomed to, and the normal potential of man.

Le Corbusier, architect; Vers une Architecture

February 13, 2004

Looted armour returned to France

Posted at 2:06 pm in Similar cases

A major British Museum has returned an artefact from their collection to another museum – an action that in the past many museums have claimed would set a precedent for the emptying of their collections. Presumably the decision to make this move suggests that the Royal Armouries are certain that the sky won’t fall in on them as a result.

The Guardian

Looted armour sent back to France
Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent in Paris
Thursday February 12, 2004
The Guardian

Yesterday, in a handsome panelled room in the shadow of Napoleon’s tomb in Paris, something happened which will send a shiver down the spine of many museum directors: a major British museum sent something back.

The exhibit concerned was a pair of tassets – thigh covers from a suit of 16th-century armour – which probably left Paris in a soldier’s kitbag. Almost two centuries later they have returned to the Musée de l’Armée on the Eurostar.
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February 8, 2004

Russia buys back (some of) its heritage

Posted at 2:07 pm in Similar cases

Some of Russia’s new millionaires are attempting to buy back heritage to have it within the country once more – whether this is for their own benefit, or solely for the greater good of the country remains to be seen however.

Washington Post

Old Russia’s Art Retrieved With New Russian Wealth
By Linda Hales
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 7, 2004; Page C01

A fabled collection of Faberge art objects took American mogul Malcolm S. Forbes three decades to amass. In a sign of the changing world order, the cache was snapped up this week in a single stroke by one of Russia’s new tycoons.

The secretly negotiated purchase not only preempted a bejeweled auction scheduled for April 20 in New York. It also threatened to open the Pandora’s box of the art world.
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The Parthenon – More myth than monument?

Posted at 1:48 pm in Acropolis, Elgin Marbles

Mary Beard’s new book on the Parthenon covers many aspects of its history, looking at issues from a range of perspectives in order to try & present a balanced account of how things have ended up the way they are today. It definitely makes it onto any list of required reading for anyone interested in either the Acropolis site or the Elgin Marbles. In this article, she looks at the way people’s perceptions of the monument are influenced by many external factors & pre-conceptions.

The Guardian

Gladstone on the Acropolis
How does one approach a place that is more myth than monument?
Mary Beard
Saturday February 7, 2004

In September 1886 a recent visitor to Athens penned an outraged letter to The Times, complaining about what archaeologists were doing on the Acropolis. The problem was not the zeal with which they were stripping through thousands of years of buildings, defences, litter and topsoil to reveal the barren bedrock on which the modern visitor to the site must now perilously slip and slide. The complaint was that they were tipping the spoil down the side of the hill.

This was more than an unsightly mess. It risked, the correspondent explained, destroying the distinctive profile of one end of the Acropolis: “It may interest your readers to know that the NE angle of the rock… presents a capital profile likeness of Mr Gladstone, which may be obliterated by the casting of rubbish over the walls.”
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February 6, 2004

Liverpool gallery makes U-turn over Elgin Marbles exhibition

Posted at 2:11 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

Liverpool’s Walker art gallery has decided not to allow the exhibiting of an exhibition on the Parthenon Sculptures following controversy in the local press. This is a great shame, as it appears that similar changes of mind take place all to often when certain elements of the museums establishment put pressure on others who dare to stick their heads above the parapet without permission.
There are however, still many other exhibitions planned around the country by the Marbles Reunited campaign, which are still taking place as planned.

The Guardian

Gallery’s u-turn over Marbles
David Ward
Thursday February 5, 2004
The Guardian

One of the country’s leading galleries has changed its mind and decided not to hire out a room to campaigners who want the Elgin marbles to be returned to Greece.

The Marbles Reunited campaign chose Liverpool for one of its regional launches next week because the city’s Walker art gallery has casts from some of the marbles.
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Laser technology to re-create Elgin Marbles

Posted at 2:04 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The British Museum plans to build computer re-constructions of the Elgin Marbles – is this the first step towards having a copy so that they can hand back the originals to where they belong?

The Times

February 05, 2004
Laser technology will recreate Elgin Marbles
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

THE British Museum has ambitious plans to construct a replica of the Elgin Marbles, recreating their original look in painted colours.

Hundreds of fragments of the Parthenon’s sculptures, scattered across ten museums in eight countries, are to be brought together in a computerised mapping exercise that could eventually lead to a physical replica in marble.
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Glasgow’s museums may benefit from return of the Marbles

Posted at 1:52 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

Scotland’s Museums may be among institutions to benefit if a reciprocal loan agreement is made with Greece when the Elgin Marbles are returned.

Evening Times (Glasgow)

Trade bid to return the Elgin Marbles
5th February 2004
Gordon Thomson

GLASGOW’S museums may be chosen to display priceless antiquities if a campaign to re-home the Elgin Marbles succeeds.

The news comes ahead of a campaign to return the ancient sculptures to Greece.
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February 3, 2004

Guns yes, Marbles no

Posted at 1:59 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

A decision by the Royal Armouries in Leeds has suggested that it is perfectly acceptable for museums to make long term loans – under certain circumstances. This makes one wonder why the British Museum has still never seriously discussed any loan proposals table by Greece int he past.

The Times

February 02, 2004
Bagpipes or the barber of Seville?
By Richard Morrison



BRITAIN’S oldest national museum, the Royal Armouries, has never recovered from its misguided move from the Tower of London to somewhere off the Leeds ring-road. Now, with Government approval, it has devised a most peculiar stunt to supplement its £6 million annual subsidy. It is sending 270 weapons on free loan to a new gun museum being set up in Kentucky by a rich American arms collector. Such is the obsession with guns in the United States that the Armouries is confident that, in return, it will attract large donations from pistol-fixated Americans.
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February 1, 2004

Rediscovering the enlightenment

Posted at 1:53 pm in British Museum

Does the Universal Museum of the Enlightenment really exist? Or are items such as the Elgin Marbles or the Rosetta Stone just isolated artefacts in a collection? Neil MacGregor would like the world to believe that it does exist – in many cases the way artefacts are presented does not concur with this – nor for that matter is it the undisputed best way in which a museum should be structured.

International Herald Tribune

Rediscovering the Enlightenment
Alan Riding NYT
Saturday, January 31, 2004

LONDON Museums usually present art, artifacts and antiquities in ways intended to heighten the aesthetic pleasure of visitors. Even at the British Museum, which pioneered the idea of the universal museum, there is the temptation to look at such treasures as the Elgin Marbles or the Rosetta Stone as isolated objects.

But the museum has turned back the clock to when it stood at the vanguard of the search for knowledge in the mid-18th century. Last month, climaxing celebrations of the museum’s 250th birthday, Prince Charles inaugurated a renamed and refurbished Enlightenment Gallery, which offers a selection of objects of the kind that inspired 18th-century scientists to explore the secrets of nature, archeology, antiquity and primitive peoples.
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January 29, 2004

Controversy over Parthenon Marbles hits Liverpool gallery

Posted at 2:07 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

After agreeing to host an exhibition on the return of the Parthenon Marbles, a Liverpool Gallery has been hit by a storm of protests claiming that they should not be expressing their support for the issue.

IC Liverpool

Marbles row hits gallery
Jan 28 2004
By Mark Hookham, Daily Post

THE Walker art gallery was at the centre of a political storm last night after agreeing to host the launch of a campaign to strip the British Museum of the Elgin Marbles.

The great-great-grandson of Lord Elgin last night said it was “monstrous” for the gallery to host the launch of the Marbles Reunited campaign in the North West.
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Can the Parthenon Sculptures ownership row ever be resolved?

Posted at 2:04 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

There have been a wide range of responses to letters in The Times about the Elgin Marbles a few days ago.

The Times

January 28, 2004

Playing marbles
Can the row over ownership of the Parthenon sculptures ever be resolved?
YOUR debate about the Elgin Marbles (January 20) makes depressing reading. The same old arguments repeated on both sides, and no hint of compromise offered or accepted. It must be time, for the sake of the friendship which ought to exist between the Greeks and the British, to seek a solution to this corrosive quarrel.

My solution would be that we give the Duveen Gallery and the land it stands on to Greece, and we lend them the Marbles for as long as they keep them in the gallery.
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January 26, 2004

Issues raised in press coverage of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 2:00 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

Responses to some of the press coverage of the launch of the Marbles Reunited campaign.

The Times

January 25, 2004
Letters to the Editor: Riddle of the Elgin marbles

YOUR articles, Public shows huge support for return of Elgin marbles and Oi, hands off our marbles! (News, January 11 and News Review, last week), raised some controversial points. The British Museum’s claim to legal ownership of the marbles “because it paid for them in the 19th century” is incorrect. The marbles were purchased in 1816 by the government of the day, with £35,000 of public money, and vested in the British Museum.

The claim that the British Museum “has never had a formal written request for the marbles’ return” may well be true — but British governments over the years have certainly had formal requests from Greece.
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January 24, 2004

Repatriation of Native American artefacts

Posted at 1:50 pm in Elgin Marbles

Other museums can return artefacts because it is the right thing to do. Could the British Museum not repatriate the Elgin Marbles for the same reason?

Norwich Bulletin

Opinion – Friday, January 23, 2004
Norwich knows to tell British: Return statues
‘Context’ matters here, in Athens

Slater Museum director Vivian Zoe was at Mohegan Sun Thursday to witness the “repatriation” of Native American artifacts originally unearthed at Fort Shantok, where Uncas’ warriors successfully defended the tribe against the Narragansetts in the 17th Century.

Over the centuries, the artifacts had been scattered hither, thither and yon. These ones in particular were returned by the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Litchfield County.
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