Quote of the Day

Once the museum is completed, Greece will have a very strong argument for the return of the Parthenon sculptures.

Kostas Karamanlis, Hellenic Republic Prime Minister

September 5, 2014

Conference in Rome on the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 1:13 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

Professor Dario Siegle is organising a one day conference on the Parthenon Sculptures, taking place in Rome on Wednesday 8th October 2014.

There are various speakers from Greecec & Italy taking part in the event.

You can view the programme for the event here.

Conference flyer

Conference flyer

September 1, 2014

Can a museum be too big?

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum

An interesting perspective her, advocates breaking up the largest museums, to allow visitors to enjoy a better experience there, without such high levels of crowding. Institutions such as the British Museum regularly crow about the number of people who visit (with the implication of the statements being that they all see the Parthenon Marbles), but the reality is that this tells nothing about the quality of the experience.

The idea of splitting museums into more manageable chunks is nothing new – London’s Natural History Museum, the British Library & the now sadly defunct Museum of Mankind, once all fell under the auspices of the British Museum.

Some in the industry talk in horror about any event that might lead to a reduction in the collections of the encyclopaedic museums, but the reality is that if current trends continue, such breaking up of collections might become a necessity. As such, once this happens, surely restitution requests would not be seen in quite the same light as they are now, as breaking apart the integrity of a collection that had been amassed over the centuries.

Crowds at the Metropolitan Museum in New York

Crowds at the Metropolitan Museum in New York

From:
Al Jazeera

Break up the major museums to save them
August institutions should build more outposts rather than cloister themselves in big cities
August 31, 2014 6:00AM ET

The Louvre in Paris recently told The Art Newspaper that it expects its visitor numbers to rise by a third over the next decade, putting the world’s busiest art museum on track to welcome 12 million visitors annually by 2025. It’s a staggering figure that points to a growing reality facing art lovers and museumgoers: How can you expect to see and enjoy art through the chaotic crowds that are increasingly defining major museums?

In the last few years, many of the largest and most popular museums, including the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, have been experiencing significant issues with crowding. The head of visitor services at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg recently admitted to The New York Times, “Such a colossal number of simultaneous viewers isn’t good for the art, and it can be uncomfortable and overwhelming for those who come to see the art.” In the same article, an art historian disparaged the situation at the Uffizi Gallery, home to some of the most famous masterpieces of the Renaissance, saying, “It seems like a tropical greenhouse. You can’t breathe.”
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August 29, 2014

The meaning of the Parthenon Frieze

Posted at 12:58 pm in Elgin Marbles

A few years ago, the commonly accepted theory was that the Parthenon Frieze depicted the Panathenaic Procesion. Recently though, various alternative theories have been put forward that possibly it is illustrating some completely different event.

Joan Breton Connelly’s book, the Parthenon Enigma bases a fictional story around another possible meaning of the frieze.

From:
Weekly Standard

Deep Frieze Meaning
What is the Parthenon telling us?
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By A. E. STALLINGS

The Parthenon represents, for many, a golden age in human achievement: the 5th-century b.c. Greek flowering of democracy, sciences, and the arts. But what if its chief ornament, the Parthenon frieze, turned out to be not an embodiment of reason and proportion—of stillness at the heart of motion, quiet piety, and enlightened civic responsibility—but (or, rather, also) something darker, more primitive: a representation of the critical moment in an ancient story of a king at war, a human sacrifice, and a goddess’s demand for virgin blood?

That’s the argument at the heart of The Parthenon Engima. The plot involves not only ritual murder and burial, but fragments of a lost play of Euripides found on mummy wrappings. Even the title suggests a Dan Brown thriller.
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August 28, 2014

Ancient coins returned to Greece after New York investigation

Posted at 12:59 pm in Similar cases

As part of a plea bargain, during an investigation into black market trading of rare coins, the collector Arnold-Peter Weiss has agreed to return some of the disputed coins to GReece.

Ancient Greek coins returned after investigations into illicit trading

Ancient Greek coins returned after investigations into illicit trading

From:
Reuters

Ancient coins returned to Greece as part of New York plea deal
05/08/14 12:14 CET

A collection of ancient silver pieces forfeited during an undercover investigation into black-market coin trading in New York City was handed over to the Greek government at a ceremony on Monday, city officials said.

The repatriation of the five coins dating back to 515 BC resulted from a plea agreement by a Rhode Island orthopedic surgeon and longtime coin collector who was convicted of attempted criminal possession of rare stolen coins in 2012.
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Parthenon Marbles should return, because of their beauty

Posted at 12:43 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Jonathan Jones argues persuasively in the Guardian, that the Marbles should eb returned. Key to his reasoning is the matter of context, something that I have often argued about previously. No matter what the British Msueum says, it is impossible to see the Marbles in the same way in the British Museum as it would be in the Acropolis Museum, within sight of the Parthenon.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Guardian

18th August 2014
Jonathan Jones
The Parthenon marbles are the world’s most beautiful art – and that’s why we should give them back
These consummately beautiful sculptures demand a proper setting – and a trip to Athens has convinced me the Acropolis Museum is that place

What can you do with the world’s most beautiful art? Where does it belong? How should it be cared for and displayed?

The art in question is the array of sculpture created in Athens in the 5th century BC to decorate the Parthenon, the temple to Athena that still, today, dominates the skyline of the Greek capital.
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August 12, 2014

Encasing the Parthenon Marbles in sand as bomb protection considered during first World War

Posted at 8:00 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Newly released information reveals that one of the way that the British Museum considerd protecting the Parthenon Marbles during the First World War was to fill the room where they were housed with sand. The idea was ditched, because of worries that the walls of the room would not be able to hold the weight of the sand. In the end, the sculptures were instead protected with sandbags in the gallers.

Not that many years later, in the Second World War, when the risk of bombing was far greater, they were instead transferred to disused London Underground tunnels for safety.

Parthenon Marbles being removed from the London Underground in 1948

Parthenon Marbles being removed from the London Underground in 1948

From:
Art Newspaper

British Museum’s battle on the home front during the First World War
Archive reveals how air raids threatened the collection and King George V intervened to stop the building being requisitioned
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 259, July-August 2014
Published online: 30 July 2014

The British Museum’s curator of Oriental prints and drawings wrote what became one of most famous war poems in the English language. Laurence Binyon penned the lines of “For the Fallen” in September 1914 that are inscribed on thousands of memorials: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn / At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.”

Binyon volunteered for military service in 1915. He told the museum’s director: “I know I am not the best material [he was 45], but it does seem as if every man would be wanted before the end.” Binyon worked as a hospital orderly in eastern France in 1916.
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August 7, 2014

Riding from Athens to London for the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:48 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

I wrote last year about the Italian Dr Luca Lo Sico, who planned to cycle from London to Athens in support of the Parthenon Marbles.

He has now arrived in Athens, and been welcomed by Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Angela Gerekou.

He follows in the pedals of Dr Chris Stockdale, who undertook a similar cycle ride in 2005 for the same reason.

Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Angela Gerekou with Salvatore Lo Sicco

Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Angela Gerekou with Salvatore Lo Sicco

From:
Greek Reporter

London to Athens on a Bike for the Parthenon Marbles Return
Ioanna Zikakou
Aug 7, 2014

Salvatore Lo Sicco, a British-Italian professor who works in the UK, traveled from London to Athens on his bike to rally for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles.

Lo Sicco started his route outside the British Museum, which houses the Marbles that Lord Elgin removed from Athens in the 1800′s, and finished in front of the steps of the Acropolis Museum.
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July 29, 2014

Are the British Museum planning on moving the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Various news articles give the impression that the British Museum will be moving some parts of the Parthenon Sculptures for an exhibition on ancient Greece taking place next year.

While the sculptures will not be leaving the museum at all during this process, it raises a couple of interesting points.

Firstly, the British Museum regularly makes the point that the sculptures can be seen free of charge in London – highlighting the fact that an admission fee is charged by the Acropolis Museum. However, large temporary exhibitions at the British Museum are never free – so you will no longer be able to see all the sculptures there for free while the exhibition is on.

Secondly, it has often been suggested in the past, that the sculptures are too valuable & fragile to be moved – that any handling might damage them. The fact that the British Museum is happy to move them around within the building shows that to move them to a more distant location would clearly be possible.

One assumes that Greece will probably be lending some sculptures to this exhibition. They should think long and hard so though, as to how they can also use their acto of generousity to highlight the British Msueum’s duplicity in this issue.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Daily Telegraph

Elgin Marbles moved for first time in over half a century
British Museum to move the Elgin Marbles for the first time since their installation in 1962 as plans announced for blockbuster exhibition on ancient Greece
By Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor
3:53PM BST 02 Jul 2014

The Elgin Marbles are to leave their current home at the British Museum. Unfortunately for those who believe the treasures should be returned to Greece, they are not going very far.

The marbles are being relocated from one part of the museum to another – the first time they have been moved in over half a century.
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July 22, 2014

Preview screening of Promakhos – a film about the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 5:19 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

I was fortunate enough to be invited last week to a preview screening (essentially where they drum up intereste from possible distributors etc) for the film Promakhos, which I have already written about previously here.

The event was well attended, with Stephen Fry giving his thoughts on it afterwards and leadng a question & answer session with the two directors.

Marbles Reunited has already done a very good writeup of the event – so I won’t try & repeat their work, but will just give a summary of my own thoughts on the film.

Styled as a legal thriller, it follows the story of one person’s fight to use the courts to secure the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. There are many dramatic scenes in it, and perhaps the most memorable part is where Paul Debevec’s superlative three-dimensional model of the Parthenon is broght to life in the room, as the people wander around it, stepping into a rebuilt past through the use of virtual reality glasses.

As you can imagine, things do not always proceed smoothly – yet the film’s protagonist manages to maintain his vision & despite the ups & downs remains focussed on the goal of securing the return of the sculptures.

The cinematography is magnificent, and for anyone who has ever spent time in Athens, prefectly manages to capture the spirat of the city, through othersise unremarkable details, in a way that perhaps holds far more of its modern day charm than many films, that only see things through the eyes of a tourist. There are various allusions throught the film to ancient Greece & aspects of mythology, helping to further anchor the present day story into the ethos of ancient Athens & to show the importance of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greeks.

The film is set against the backdrop of the financial crisis & the unrest that followed in Athens – and as such is very much of its time. However, that it just because it takes place now – the story that it is telling could largely be transplanted to any other time in the campaign for the return of the sculptures & would continue to make sense. It is not something that the British Museum can just ignore with the hope that it goes away.

There are a few amusing moments too – particularly, when during the cases, others highlight their own countries requests for the return of arterfacts from the British Museum.

The film is not on display publicly anywhere yet – in the meantime though, you can watch the trailer, to give you a flavour of what it is about.

Stephen Fry with one of the directors at the preview screening of Promakhos

Stephen Fry with one of the directors at the preview screening of Promakhos

July 9, 2014

Greece needs a new Melina Mercouri to spearhead the Parthenon Marbles Campaign

Posted at 12:55 pm in Elgin Marbles

George Vardas from Australians for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, writes about how a new figure with the charisma & public appeal of the late Melina Mercouri is needed to lead Greece’s campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

Greece's Deputy Minister for Culture, Ms Angeliki Gerekou

Greece’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Ms Angeliki Gerekou

From:
Neos Kosmos

“We need another Melina”
The Greek Culture Ministry and the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures
26 Jun 2014
George Vardas

Just over a year ago the then newly-appointed Culture Minister in Greece, Panos Panagiotopoulos, announced with considerable fanfare a new Greek initiative on the Parthenon Sculptures: a strategy based on convening a mediation under the auspices of UNESCO at which the British and Greek authorities would meet to attempt to reach a resolution of this long standing cultural dispute.

Some commentators, including this writer, were sceptical about how the British would react, as mediation requires both sides to enter into negotiations in good faith. Mr Panagiotopoulos was adamant that this was Greece’s official position and sought support for his stance from the various overseas national committees. In due course a formal request for mediation was sent to the British side by the UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bukova, and we waited to see what the British response would be.
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May 14, 2014

The Athenian Acropolis as a movie backdrop

Posted at 12:57 pm in Acropolis

In recent years, there has been much debate about the decision by Greece’s government to make it easier for commersial filming to take place on the Acropolis.

These decision to free up the access to the site appear to be gradually producing visible benefits, with new films using the backdrop of the Parthenon as a key part of their story.

Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in ‘The Two Faces of January’

Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in ‘The Two Faces of January’

From:
Independent (Ireland)

Cinema Reviews: ‘The Two Faces of January’
Cert 12A

Padraic McKiernan, Hilary A White, Aine O’Connor – Published 11 May 2014 02:30 AM
Reviewed this week are ‘The Two Faces of January’, ‘In Bloom’, ‘A Thousand Times Goodnight’, ‘A Winter Chill’ and ‘In Secret’.

With a title that bears reference to a two-faced Roman god and a stunning backdrop that takes in some of Ancient Greece’s most famous ruins, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to read there’s a certain mythic quality to the story that unfolds in director Hossein Amini’s engaging thriller.
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May 3, 2014

Rhodes offers to host Clooney’s wedding in thanks for Parthenon Marbles support

Posted at 9:28 am in Elgin Marbles

In a somewhat unusual move, the village of Paradisi on Rhodes has offered to host George Clooney’s wedding there in thanks for his support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

Clooney & his fiancée Amal Alamuddin have yet to comment on this offer.

George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin

George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin

From:
Greek Reporter

George Clooney Invited to Tie the Knot in Rhodes
by Ioanna Zikakou – May 1, 2014

A local association in Paradisi, a village in Rhodes, Greece, has sent a letter of invitation via the U.S. Embassy to George Clooney, inviting him to get married in the region.

Without wasting any time, the Cultural Association of Paradisi “Agia Marina” wrote a letter to the U.S. Embassy, in which it invites the famous Hollywood star to get married in a church in Rhodes, while the letter also suggests the George Clooney’s best men should be villagers from Paradisi. As they said, they consider him to be “one of us.”
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