Quote of the Day

If the Mona Lisa had been sawed in two during the Napoleonic Wars and the separated halves had been acquired by different museums, would there not be a general wish to see what they might look like if reunited?

Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair magazine

August 25, 2003

How could Britain benefit if the Parthenon Marbles were returned?

Posted at 8:22 am in Elgin Marbles

Recently, Greece has offered to loan Britain various artefacts – some never exhibited before – in exchange for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.

From:
Sunday Herald

Greece offers relics for Marbles swap
Athens of the North to host a major exhibition of classical relics … if British Museum agrees to hand Elgin statues back to Olympic city
By Liam McDougall Arts Correspondent

EDINBURGH will be granted a major exhibition of priceless Greek treasures if Britain agrees to a controversial deal to allow the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens.

Sources close to talks between the British and Greek governments have said the Scottish capital – dubbed the Athens of the North – has been earmarked by Greece as the host city for the event under new compromise proposals.
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August 19, 2003

Controversy surrounds the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 8:34 am in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum represents the best possible location for reuniting the surviving Elgin Marbles, but has also stirred up a lot of controversy. It is worth noting though, that a lot of the issues are more politically motivated, rather than stemming from the actual project itself.

From:
BBC News

Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Acropolis building site stirs up storm
By Richard Galpin
BBC, Athens

If visitors to the Acropolis in central Athens were to cast their eyes across the city to the south-east, they would soon spot a large gap in the densely populated neighbourhood of Markryianni, just a stone’s-throw away.

It is a building site for a controversial new Acropolis museum.
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August 17, 2003

The fight for the return of Haida remains

Posted at 8:53 am in Similar cases

The Haida Repatriation Committee has been fighting for the return of their ancestral bones from museums around the world. They have already had a lot of successes, but it has been a difficult struggle & there is still a lot further to go.

From:
Globe and Mail

POSTED AT 4:04 AM EDT Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003
Bones of contention
For decades the remains of B.C.’s Haida ancestors have been locked away in metal drawers as specimens in museums around the world. Now, the Haida are fighting to bring them home, ALEXANDRA GILL writes
By ALEXANDRA GILL
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

SKIDEGATE, B.C. — Andy Wilson has spent the past seven years collecting some very special bones. Bones so precious they can’t be kept here, in the main cemetery, overlooking the tiny town of Skidegate on the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The bones are buried in a sacred grove, somewhere in the spruce forest behind us, explains Wilson, the soft-spoken man who co-chairs the local committee responsible for bringing the human remains of his Haida ancestors back home.
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August 16, 2003

Time to return the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 8:58 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

As times change & projects such as the New Acropolis Museum are now so far underway, more & more people think that now is the time to reconsider the issue of the Elgin Marbles inside the British Museum.

From:
Boston Globe

Part of the Parthenon
8/15/2003

AFTER 200 years in British captivity, it is time for the gods and heroes looted from the Parthenon to return home. The dispute over whether the Seventh Earl of Elgin acted properly when he had the carved marble statues hacked off the temple “for their own protection” in 1801 has enlivened the worlds of arts and politics for decades. The pop star Melina Mercouri’s personal crusade to return the marbles defined her term as Greek minister of culture. Both Keats and Byron waxed poetic upon viewing them. Now, as Athens readies itself to host the 2004 Summer Olympics, the Elgin Marbles should be part of the pomp.

The British Museum, which holds 247 feet of carved frieze and 17 statues, insists it will not return the marbles to Greece, even for a loan. But the Greek government is forging ahead with a $100 million Acropolis museum to house them. As with all things related to the marbles, the museum construction itself is causing controversy, with critics claiming that the site excavation is disturbing other archeological treasures. But the new museum — assuming it is completed on time — should answer a chief claim of the British: that Greece cannot properly care for the marbles.
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August 13, 2003

Does Greece claim ownership of the Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 9:02 am in Elgin Marbles

In what could be seen as a big step forward, Greece has agreed that the ownership of the Parthenon Marbles is an area that is still up for discussion in any negotiations about their return.

This point has traditionally been a major sticking point, with the British Museum claiming ownership & Greece refusing to accept this, so that the discussions do not move on beyond this one issue.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Tuesday August 12, 2003
Ownership of Marbles still open, Greece says

In a new sign of how wide the gap is between Athens and London regarding the ownership of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos denied yesterday that it had renounced ownership of the fifth-century BC sculptures.

«As nuances are very important, I must repeat that the Greek government has never stated it recognizes the British Museum’s legal title to the Parthenon Marbles,» Venizelos said. «What we have said is that we do not raise the legal issue of ownership, as we wish to find a friendly and consensual solution that will allow a joint exhibition of the Marbles in the new Acropolis Museum.»
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August 11, 2003

British Museum denies that there are any ongoing “secret talks” abot the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 9:08 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Despite reports that there are secret talks between Britain & Greece about the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, the British Museum has strongly denied that this is the case.

From:
Art Daily

Monday, August 4, 2003
Marbles will not be returned

The British Museum yesterday categorically rejected a claim that it was to give back the Parthenon marbles for next year´s Olympic Games in Athens. Nor were secret talks going on about their long-term loan to a £30m museum being built on the Acropolis, its trustees insisted.

Last year the Greek government dropped its claim to own the 2,500-year-old sculptures – taken from the Parthenon frieze by Lord Elgin in 1801 – in the hope that the British Museum might one day be persuaded to give them back.
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August 4, 2003

Secret talks over return of Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 9:10 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Greece is reportedly involved in secret talks with the British Museum about how the Elgin Marbles could be returned in time for the 2004 Olympics.

From:
The Times

August 03, 2003
Museum in secret talks to return Elgin marbles
Jon Ungoed-Thomas

THE British Museum has been holding previously undisclosed talks with the Greek government over a proposal to return the Elgin marbles to Athens for next year’s Olympics.

The museum confirmed last week that it has been talking to the Greeks about lending them the marbles, despite repeatedly saying that they would always remain in Britain.
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July 29, 2003

British Museum rejects calls for Rosetta Stone return

Posted at 9:42 am in British Museum, Similar cases

The British Museum has stated that they will not consider any return of the Rosetta Stone to Egypt, whether permanently, or in the form of a loan.

From:
Mail & Guardian

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
The Rosetta Stone will stay in London, and that’s final
Cairo
29 July 2003 10:34

Egypt’s antiquities chief will continue to press the British Museum to loan the 2 200-year-old Rosetta Stone to Cairo for a limited time, though British curators say they can’t let a piece central to their collection go.

“The trustees do not consent to the loan of what might be called “iconic” objects …. To loan such pieces would result in our disappointing the five-million or so visitors who come to the museum every year,” British Museum officials said in a statement issued on Monday in London.
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Differences in attitudes to artefact repatriation

Posted at 9:25 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Museums in the USA were founded on very different principles to many of those in Europe. Nowadays, this difference is starting to manifest itself in their more pragmatic approach to the restitution of disputed artefacts in their collections.

From:
Slate

Trading Places
Cultural property disputes are reshaping the art world—but how?
By Carol Kino
Posted Monday, July 28, 2003, at 12:25 PM PT

It’s a sad truth that the depredations of war and imperialism have sometimes had positive side effects for art history. Take the Metropolitan Museum’s recent “Manet-Velázquez” show, on the influence of 17th-century Spanish painting on 19th-century French art. For most of the 18th century, Spanish artists like Murillo, Zurbaran, and Velázquez were little known outside their homeland. Then in the early 1800s, hundreds of Spanish paintings arrived in Paris as Napoleonic war loot. Some were briefly shown at the Louvre before Napoleon’s defeat, after which they were returned. Later that century, French artists began adopting the Spanish artists’ realist aesthetic and loose, sensuous brushwork—a move that laid the foundations of Impressionism and radically changed the course of modern art.

Unlike many European museums, American museums were built with civic and capitalist muscle, rather than imperial might. Yet well into the 1970s their attitude toward acquisitions—as any expert will admit off the record—was frequently “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But today American courts are dealing with an unprecedented number of Holocaust reparation cases. And last year, the Justice Department successfully prosecuted a well-known New York dealer, Frederick Schultz, for conspiring to receive stolen Egyptian antiquities. As a result, some foreign collectors and museums have become more cautious about loaning work to museum shows—particularly those in America—and everyone has become vastly more diligent about conducting provenance research before buying.
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July 25, 2003

Egypt calls for British Museum to return Rosetta Stone

Posted at 9:30 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Egypt’s Zahi Hawass has requested that the British Museum returns the Rosetta Stone.

From:
BBC News

Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Egypt calls for return of Rosetta Stone

Egyptian authorities are calling for the British Museum to return the 2,000-year-old Rosetta Stone to Cairo.

The artefact is one of the British Museum’s most prize pieces, helping to attract millions of visitors each year.
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July 2, 2003

Makriyianni site is ideal location for New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 8:01 am in Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

After pressure by various organisations trying to stop the building of the New Acropolis Museum, Greece’s Central Archaeological Council has ruled that the Makriyianni site is the best location for the new building.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Date: 7-2-2003
Agreement on the new Acropolis Museum
The Central Archaeological Council reconfirmed in unison that the Makriyiannis Estate below the rock is the ideal location
Antiquities will suffer no damage, although some will have to be transfered for the installation of supporting pillars.
By Iota Sykka – Kathimerini

Shortly before the publication of the Council of State’s decision on the legality of the study for the new Acropolis Museum, the Ministry of Culture confirmed that the procedures were in the final stages before assigning the project to a contractor. At a meeting last week of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), held to examine two studies about the location of supporting pillars and a reduction of their number, the entire council agreed that the Makriyiannis Estate was the ideal location for the new museum. Even the toughest-to-convince members of the council, like Professor Haralambos Bouras, agreed that the antiquities would suffer no damage. Vassilios Labrinoudakis claimed that this solution was by far the best and Dimitrios Constantios added that the Makriyiannis Estate is the most appropriate place.

Although there has been disagreement in the past about the museum being located so close to the Acropolis rock, no objection was raised at this most recent meeting. “If we built an industrial shelter, it would look ugly,” claimed Bouras, while another member of the council added that even more supporting pillars would be needed were that to happen.
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June 24, 2003

View the Parthenon Frieze online

Posted at 8:06 am in Elgin Marbles

A new website aims to show the Parthenon frieze in its entirety online, so that people can see the parts from separate museums joined virtually into a single image.

From:
Cordis

Technology project enables public to view Parthenon frieze online
[Date: 2003-06-24]

An information technology project funded by the Greek government has enabled archaeologists and the wider public to take an online tour of the complete Parthenon frieze, whose blocks themselves are held in three separate museums in Greece, the UK and France.

The Greek Ministry of Culture, together with the national documentation centre and first ephorate of prehistoric and classical antiquities, decided to digitalise the frieze on account of its cultural importance, and exploited new technologies in order to maximise the projects appeal and impact.
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