Quote of the Day

In the new museum of Athens, there will be a room, awaiting the return of our marbles... with only numbers on the wall, to represent the pieces that are in London.

Professor Demetrios Pandermalis, Chair of OANMA

June 23, 2003

New Acropolis Museum architect Bernard Tschumi speaks about his design

Posted at 8:09 am in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Bernard Tschumi, the designer of the New Acropolis Museum speaks about some of the key points of the design of this building.

Form:
Greece Now

Museum with a view
New Acropolis Museum architect Bernard Tschumi speaks to Greece Now about his Parthenon ‘glass house’

Swiss theorist, teacher and architect Bernard Tschumi believes in building spaces that make events happen. As the winner of the New Acropolis Museum contract, this philosophy of his will be put to the ultimate test. And though the Parthenon marbles’ return to Greece from the British Museum amidst 2004 Olympic fanfare is not guaranteed, there is an entire floor in Tschumi’s contract-winning plan for the disputed 160-metre frieze.

The winning design (created with Greek architect Mihalis Fotiades) was among 12 projects invited to compete by the Organisation for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum. After three fruitless competitions (two Greek, one international) held for the museum since 1976, construction is finally set to begin by the end of the summer.
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June 17, 2003

Could a joint venture between UK & Greece solve the Elgin Marbles problem?

Posted at 8:19 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

A possible resolution to the dispute over the Elgin Marbles has been proposed, whereby Greece would operate the New Acropolis Museum as an annexe of the British Museum, allowing the London institution to retain ownership & control of the sculptures, while they would be on public display in Greece.

From:
Greece Now

Joint venture could solve Marbles deadlock
Greece offers annex of new Acropolis Museum to the British Museum to host exhibition

Greece has offered to host a joint-exhibition of the Parthenon Marbles (known in the UK as the Elgin Marbles) with the British Museum in a bid to end the tug of war over the sculptures in time for the Athens 2004 Olympics.

The Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos offered an annex of the planned Acropolis museum, being built in time for the Games, to revive stalled talks over the ancient Greek sculptures.
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Scaffolding to remain on Acropolis during the Olympics

Posted at 8:15 am in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

It was originally planned that the restoration works on the Acropolis would be completed in time for the Olympics – the huge amount of work still to be completed means that this is now unlikely to happen.

From:
NZoom

Acropolis may miss Olympics
Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003

Greek archaeologists are working overtime to finish the restoration of the Athens Acropolis before the 2004 Olympics, but warn that not all the scaffolding may have been dismantled by August next year, when the Games kick off.

“We are undertaking an immense effort to make the Acropolis as beautiful as possible for the Olympics, but I can’t guarantee that will happen — the deadlines are very tight,” Maria Ioannidou, restoration director for the renowned ancient temple complex overlooking downtown Athens, told AFP.
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June 13, 2003

Will the New Acropolis Museum herald the return of the Parthenon Sculptures?

Posted at 1:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The New Acropolis Museum represents a momentous turning point in the story of the Elgin Marbles – and perhaps the most persuasive argument for their return, to emerge in recent years.

From:
Financial Times

Friday Jun 13 2003
Sharp end of civilisation
By Peter Aspden

They arrived in London in 1811, cracked and battered, but, like an asylum seeker with suspect credentials, they had to wait for another five years before they found a new home, in a brick-built shed in Bloomsbury.

Within months, they became one of the city’s most compelling attractions. One admirer, the painter Benjamin Haydon, wrote with amazement that 1,200 people had visited them in a single day. He liked to record conversations in his diary: “We overheard two common-looking decent men say to each other, ‘How broken they are, a’ant they?’ ‘Yes,’ said the other, ‘but how like life’.”
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June 7, 2003

British Museum celebrates 250th anniversary

Posted at 1:10 pm in British Museum

The British Museum is 250 years old. In the time since it opened, a lot has changed – the means of acquiring artefacts, which were once acceptable, are no longer seen in the same light.

Perhaps now, in celebration of this anniversary, the time is right for the British Museum to re-invent itself, but repatriating the disputed artefacts in its collection, by negotiating new deals & exchanges, by looking forward rather than backward.

From:
Guardian

National treasure
In praise of the British Museum
Leader
Saturday June 7, 2003
The Guardian

This nation has too few monuments to the mind. Quite the grandest can be found in the capital – the British Museum, which is 250 years old today. A project of the 18th-century English enlightenment, it offered an education to the masses at a time when the country’s monarch, and much of its ruling classes, were indifferent to the public’s need for scholarly nourishment. It took an act of parliament to set up, was paid for by a public lottery and was founded in Bloomsbury in 1753 where it still stands. The first national public museum in the world opened for “all studious and curious persons” two years later. Dickens, Marx and Orwell all passed through its neo-classical portals in the pursuit of knowledge.

The British Museum made its name by collecting and cataloguing the world. It has sensibly abjured the trend for many public places to be an arm of the entertainment industry. This can be deeply unfashionable, but there is a place for it – highlighted by the need to repair Iraq’s cultural heritage, a task which the British Museum’s curators and conservators are uniquely equipped to help. Of course one person’s accumulated wealth can be viewed as another’s loss. Plunder may have brought the Elgin Marbles to Britain, but it is undeniable that they remain free for anyone to see. These arguments should be put to one side today. The British Museum’s repository of knowledge instead should be celebrated.
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May 29, 2003

Canadian Prime Minister slips up on Elgin Marbles issue

Posted at 1:21 pm in Elgin Marbles

The recent statements by the Canadian Prime Minster, Jean Chrétien, indicate that he has no idea what is going on in his own government – and more worryingly, that he does not check what is happening, before making statements about issues.

From:
Globe & Mail

Thursday, May. 29, 2003
Elgin Marbles trip up PM in Greece
By SHAWN McCARTHY and JANE TABER
From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

Athens and Ottawa — Prime Minister Jean Chrétien tripped over the Elgin Marbles issue yesterday, not knowing that both the House of Commons and the Senate have adopted motions calling on Britain to return the ancient works of art to Greece.

No help to the Prime Minister, in Athens at the start of an 11-day European visit, was Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, who also had no clue that on Tuesday the Senate adopted a motion encour­aging the United Kingdom to return the sculptures to Greece before the 2004 Athens Olympics.
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May 26, 2003

Is a left arm in the British Museum from the Elgin Marbles in fact a right arm?

Posted at 4:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The British Museum claims to be the best place for looking after the Parthenon Marbles, but new claims suggest, that for the entire time it has been in their collection, they have labeled a piece as a left arm from the sculptures, when it is in fact a right arm. Whether or not this is the case has yet to be determined.

From:
Guardian

Artist says British Museum does not know left from right
Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Monday May 26, 2003

There are several ways of looking at the troubled history of the Parthenon marbles. The argument now is over whether the British Museum knows its elbow from its armpit.

As international controversy rumbles on over future of the marbles, the new bones of contention are in a shattered fragment of a 2,441-year-old arm.
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Should Britain return Australian Aboriginal remains

Posted at 4:54 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The return of aboriginal remains is a debate that has been ongoing for some time. The government has commissioned a legal report, due to be completed next month, that is expected to be sympathetic to the issue. Many scientists are very upset at the idea that museums may have to return any of these remains however.

From:
The Age (Melbourne)

Science versus sanctity
May 26 2003

Britain is considering whether to return ancient Aboriginal remains to Australia, and UK scientists are up in arms. Peter Fray reports.

Playing the reluctant scientist, Chris Stringer would have you believe he was “pushed”. But the reality is, he jumped, feet first, into one of the hottest scientific and cultural debates on the planet: who owns ancient remains? Is it the world’s museums or the descendants of traditional societies?
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May 23, 2003

Legal issues surround New Acropolis Museum construction

Posted at 4:49 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum has taken a long time to get to this stage, but many in Greece seem desperate to stop it from being built at all, despite the fact that the proper procedures have been followed & that the building has been deliberately designed to avoid disturbing the archaeological remains below.

From:
Athens News

FRIDAY , 23 MAY 2003
No. 13015
Acropolis Museum builders unfazed by imminent court ruling
JOHN HADOULIS

PROTESTERS opposed to the construction of Athens’ new Acropolis Museum in an area rife with archaeological remains have reportedly won a legal battle in their campaign to halt the project, but Greek media indicate that a final court decision on the issue could take months.

Reports on May 19 said that the Council of State sided with residents of Makriyianni – the area selected for the new museum at the foot of the Acropolis – who claim that the building’s foundations will damage a valuable housing complex dating from the Classical to the early Christian era.
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May 22, 2003

Death of Graham Binns, campaigner for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 5:04 pm in Elgin Marbles

Graham Binns, who in recent years was well known as the head of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has sadly died at the age of seventy-seven.

From:
The Times

May 22, 2003
Graham Binns

Promoter of the arts and of commercial radio, who campaigned for the Elgin Marbles to go back to Greece
From 1997 until 2002 Graham Binns was the chairman of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. He was one of the committee’s first members, and was thrilled by the latest design for the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, where the Greek Government wishes to place the unified Marbles.

When the committee was first established, many thought its aim eccentric, but Binns was never deterred by the hostility which the views of the committee frequently met. He often conducted conversations through the letters columns of the broadsheet papers. In correspondence in The Times last year, he wrote: “If the British Museum ‘transcends national boundaries’, it makes sense to bring all the pieces relating to the Parthenon together in a purpose-built museum next to the monument where, indeed, they can be under the British Museum’s ownership and auspices. Things move on.”
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May 20, 2003

Greek courts rule against New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 5:09 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Greece’s courts have ruled against the legality of the planning permission for the New Acropolis Museum. The government has however vowed to ensure that the project can continue & is attempting to rectify the issues that led to this decision.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday May 19, 2003
New blow to Acropolis Museum?
Court reportedly rejects plan

The much-delayed project to build a new Acropolis Museum under the ancient citadel before the 2004 Olympics appears to have suffered a new blow, according to weekend reports that Greece’s highest administrative court has rejected initial plans for the 94-million-euro building.

Sources quoted by the Athens News Agency on Saturday and the Sunday Ethnos said the plenary session of the Council of State unanimously decided that the initial study for construction of the building, on the basis of which the construction permit was issued, illegally allowed the destruction of antiquities on the site that had been set aside for preservation. The ruling, which will not be officially made public for several weeks, also reportedly mentions that the Culture Ministry’s Supreme Archaeological Council has not sanctioned the destruction, as it is legally bound to do.
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April 27, 2003

Looking back at the looting of Baghdad

Posted at 7:44 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Four articles look at different aspects of the looting of museums & archaeological sites in Iraq, whether similar things could happen in the west, & whether more steps could have been taken to anticipate it.

The British Museum has been eager to help the situation – which is to be welcomed, but at the same time is slightly odd behaviour, as so many of the museum’s own artefacts were acquired through similar situation in the past. Despite this fact though, they continue to maintain that what happened in the past was perfectly acceptable, but that what is happening now in Iraq is to be condemned.

From:
Post Gazette

Looting of Baghdad treasures shines light on a ‘dirty business’
Sunday, April 27, 2003
By Dennis B. Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Byzantine frescos of Lysi, painted in Cyprus, kidnapped to Germany and now staring down from the ceiling of a museum chapel in Texas, testify by their travels that the world views much of its cultural legacy through a catalog of stolen property.

For nine centuries, the frescos hung unmolested on a small chapel in Cyprus before being cut from the ceiling by Turkish looters during the 1974 war. Ten years later, a Houston foundation, working with the Cypriot Orthodox Church, saved them and installed them in the museum chapel, where they are an example of the moral ambiguity of the antiquities trade.
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