Quote of the Day

Each stone as it fell shook the ground with its ponderous weight, with a deep hollow noise; it seemed like a convulsive groan of the injured spirit of the temple.

Sir Robert Smirke, Architect of the current British Museum

December 16, 2003

Greece asks courts to rule on the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:58 pm in Elgin Marbles

Greek bar associations are planning on asking the European Court of Human rights to rule on the Elgin Marbles Issue. Hopefully this action will proceed, unlike other similar cases in the past that has started with high enthusiasm, but then dropped below the radar at a later date.

From:
Independent Online (Zaire)

Greece to ask court to rule on Elgin Marbles
December 15 2003 at 02:21PM
Quickwire

Athens – Greek bar associations will ask the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights to rule on their country’s long-standing demand for the return from Britain of the Elgin Marbles, an official said on Monday.

“The relevant papers should be finished by the end of year,” Yiannis Stamoulis, the lawyer preparing the case, told AFP.
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December 7, 2003

Can the New Acropolis Museum escape its legal setbacks

Posted at 1:04 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The Greek Government has drafted a special bill, that it hopes will help to extricate the New Acropolis Museum from the legal proceedings that are currently holding back its construction.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Saturday December 6, 2003
NEWS
Bill to extract museum from legal quagmire

In a bid to dig its key project for the new Acropolis museum out of a legal quagmire, the government has drafted a special bill that would legalize the controversial building, a report said yesterday.

Greece has staked much credibility on repeated pledges to build the 50-million-euro museum (in which it hopes to display the fifth-century-BC Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles should the British Museum ever return them) before the 2004 Olympics. Read the rest of this entry »

December 6, 2003

Robin Cook expresses support for Parthenon Marbles reunification

Posted at 1:01 pm in Elgin Marbles

Former British foreign Minister Robin Cook expressed support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles during a conference in Athens.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Friday December 5, 2003 – Archive
In Brief

[…]

Cook on Marbles

European Socialist Party President and former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, visiting Athens to speak at a conference on modern socialism yesterday, expressed his support for Greece’s campaign for the return of the British Museum’s Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles to Athens, in exchange for the loan of significant Greek antiquities to museums in Britain.

[…]

December 3, 2003

The Axum Obelisk is going to return

Posted at 1:07 pm in Similar cases

Italy has been prevaricating for a long time over the return of the Axum Obelisk. It looks now as though the move is finally underway, as engineers delicately dismantle the artefact so that it can be transferred back to its homeland.

From:
Chicago Tribune

Rome packing up Ethiopian treasure
An ancient obelisk seized by Mussolini as a trophy is going home after a 65-year wait
By Tracy Wilkinson, Tribune Newspapers
Los Angeles Times
Published December 2, 2003

ROME — Italian engineers are delicately dismantling an intricately carved obelisk, piece by ancient piece, and wrapping it for delivery to Ethiopia.

Italy finally is making good on a promise to return the Axum Obelisk, capping decades of bitter dispute over the monument’s fate and home.
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November 28, 2003

The Copenhagen Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 6:15 pm in Elgin Marbles

A lot of attention is devoted to the Parthenon sculptures in Athens & the British Museum, but comparatively little information is available on the other fragments scattered around Europe. This is in many ways not surprising, as they amount to less than three percent of the surviving pieces. A few years ago, a fragment from Palermo in Sicily was due to return, but the process was halted at the last minute. This article looks at the case of two heads from the metopes of the Parthenon, currently located in Copenhagen’s National Museum.

From:
The Copenhagen Post

Could Copenhagen lose its marbles?
27.11.2003

When classical scholars, historians and philhellenes flock to Copenhagen it is not to see the Little Mermaid. It’s the National Museum’s two exquisite ancient heads from the Parthenon in Athens that’s the draw. But is Greece going to claim them back?

Currently, Greece is campaigning the British Museum for a return of the Elgin Marbles, a group of sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens brought to England by Lord Elgin in 1812. When they are returned, Athens will be poised to demand the restitution of other artefacts from the Acropolis from various museums in Europe. This includes the Copenhagen Marbles, the pride of the National Museum’s antiquities collection.
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November 27, 2003

Do museum directors really change the world?

Posted at 8:18 am in British Museum

With his much espoused ideas about the Universal Museum & talk about how it represents all of humanity, it is clear that museum directors have a lot of power in shaping our view of history – and in some cases re-writing history to serve their own points of view.

From:
Guardian

Behind the scenes at the museum
Forget marches and party politics. If you really want to change the world, become a museum director
Charlotte Higgins
Thursday November 27, 2003

What is the purpose of the British Museum? Or, for that matter, any of the “universal” museums built in the wake of the Enlightenment – those living encyclopedias that once, many moons ago, could claim to contain the whole of human knowledge?

It’s hard to know, even when you get the museums’ own directors to tell you, as happened at a conference at the British Museum last week. Despite these great institutions’ apparent commonality of purpose, you’ll get a different answer depending on whom you ask.
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November 22, 2003

Are the Parthenon Marbles more about politics than archaeology

Posted at 1:43 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

The reality of the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles is that it has progressively become more politically oriented as time has elapsed since they were first removed from Greece. This is not to say though that there aren’t also good archaeological reasons supporting their return.

From:
The Guardian

Arts and humanities | Comment
Moving the marbles
The case for the Parthenon frieze is more about about politics than archaeology or public access, writes Mike Pitts
Saturday November 22, 2003

Whatever side you take on the case for moving the fragmentary 5th century BC Parthenon frieze from London to Athens, recent events show that the arguments are more about politics than archaeology or public access.

In 2001, MP Edward O’Hara proposed that the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Athens for the Olympic games next year, to fill the otherwise empty museum being built by Greece at a reported cost of £29m (in case anyone missed the hint, the Greek culture minister, Evangelos Venizelos, presented the UK with a virtual tour of the marbles in the new museum). The prime minister, Tony Blair, told Greece the art belonged to the British Museum, a view recently echoed, in refreshingly diplomatic language, by the museum’s present director, Neil MacGregor.
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D H Lawrence’s obscene paintings that were once offered back to Britain in return for Elgin Marbles

Posted at 8:35 am in Similar cases

A collection of paintings by D H Lawrence have gone on display, 70 years after being banned. At one point, they were inherited by a Greek hotelier in Mexico, who offered to sell them back to Britain in return for the Parthenon Marbles.

From:
Guardian

Lawrence ‘obscenities’ finally get a showing
Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Saturday November 22, 2003

A collection of paintings went on display yesterday – more than 70 years after the images were banned – but there is no sell-by date on obscenity.

In June 1929 a squad of embarrassed policemen raided the Warren gallery in London, and seized 13 paintings by DH Lawrence. They were spared from being burned on condition that they were never exhibited in Britain again.
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November 18, 2003

Simitis thinks resolving Elgin Marbles issue would help him win election

Posted at 7:53 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The Greek Prime Minister has been overheard pleading with Tony Blair while at a conference, asking him to try & sort out the Parthenon Marbles situation, as it would boost his ratings in the polls.

From:
Macedonian Press Agency

FRIDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2003
ELECTORAL BATTLE FOR THE RETURN OF THE MARBLES
Athens, 17 October 2003 (12:44 UTC+2)

The issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles prior to the 2004 elections was raised by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in a meeting with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the margin of the informal EU Summit in Brussels. “Mr. Simitis confessed he is losing the elections”, commented ND Spokesperson Thodoros Roussopoulos, who accused Mr. Simitis of “using a national issue for party and electoral interests”. “The event that the return of the Marbles is being discussed by the Greek and UK Prime Ministers should be greeted by all Greeks, without a party reflex”, stated Minister of Culture Evaggelos Venizelos. However there is information that there had been prior discussion between the two PMs on the return of the Marbles in correspondence between them, while Mr. Blair’s last letter “left room for hope”, according to “Flash” radio.

“The Prime Minister’s first and foremost goal is that the Marbles be back before the 2004 Olympics”, stated Government Spokesperson and Minister of the Press Christos Protopapas, in response to ND’s criticism.
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November 16, 2003

Is Dorothy King going to help the British Museum keep the Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 1:48 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In recent months, Dorothy King has been highlighted as the person who is going to spearhead the British Museum’s fight to keep the Elgin Marbles in the UK. It remains to be seen whether she will have significant effect on the inevitable paradigm shift within the museums community.

From:
The Observer

Arts and humanities
The woman who is rewriting history… from the year Dot
David Smith, arts and media correspondent
Sunday November 16, 2003
The Observer

Cooking has Nigella Lawson, gardening has Charlie Dimmock and poetry has Daisy Goodwin. Now archaeology is the next subject to receive a glamorous TV makeover, thanks to an outspoken 30-year-old blonde dubbed ‘the female Indiana Jones’.

But whereas viewers are happy to watch a domestic goddess at work in the kitchen, Dr Dorothy King is already provoking a backlash in a profession still regarded as one of the last bastions of male dominance. Her undiplomatic views on the controversy surrounding the Elgin Marbles have seen her dismissed in archaeological circles as ‘not a serious academic’ and ridiculed as ‘a rich amateur with a flag to wave’.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 14, 2003

A funding crisis for museums?

Posted at 8:38 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Museums are facing another funding crisis – but let us not forget that there are many (easily rectified) factors that contribute to their lack of funds.

Firstly, there is the fact that in many cases they have far more artefacts than they can ever display, but are not allowed to dispose of them – so must pay for the storage, maintenance & security for them.

Next though, is the fact that while some of the artefacts in their collections are disputed, other countries have offered loans of new high profile pieces if they are returned. People do not come back to museums to see the same stuff that was there the previous time – they come to see new artefacts such as these. Furthermore, temporary exhibitions are often subject to an admission charge, whilst the rest of the museum is free admission.

Surely re-thinking such factors could help to close the funding gap?

From:
Guardian

Let’s not do the timewarp again
Without money to buy new pieces, our museums will become monuments to the tastes of our predecessors. Where could the funds come from?
Jane Morris
Friday November 14, 2003

Britain’s museum directors warn that we are heading for a crisis. Lack of money to buy new things means that museums and galleries, rather like Miss Haversham, will become frozen in time, monuments to the tastes of 19th- and early 20th-century collectors and curators, but not of those today.

The fact that galleries have been refurbished and extended – from the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing to the creation of Tate Modern – masks a stasis in the collections, they say, which damages our cultural life far more than the leaky roofs or dodgy lavatories lottery money has largely done away with.
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November 13, 2003

Thirteen British athletes support the return of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 8:46 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Thirteen British Olympic Athletes have stepped forward to say that they support the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens.

From:
The Times

November 13, 2003
Required reading
The Elgin Marbles

THIRTEEN of Britain’s top athletes have stepped into the controversy over the carvings, backing Greek demands for them to be sent back to Athens before it stages the Olympic Games next year. But what is the significance of Lord Elgin? In his concise and approachable The Elgin Marbles (British Museum Press), B. F. Cook explains that the Scottish peer who became Ambassador Extraordinary to Turkey, visited Athens in 1802. The city had declined under Turkish rule, so Elgin commissioned European artists to make drawings and moulds from the carvings on the Parthenon, the temple built on the Acropolis between 447 and 432 BC. The sculptures seemed at risk, and the Turks gave Elgin permission to ship the marbles to England where he exhibited them to great acclaim at his home in Piccadilly and finally sold them to the British Government for £35,000.
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