June 19, 2013
Berlin’s Pergamnon Museum has been the subject of various restitution requests from countries such as Turkey. Not for the first time though, Germany is trying to turn the whole situation on its head, by clamouring for the return of some of the artefacts from its museums that were taken by Russia. This approach would be fine – but for as long as it ignores the requests for restitution of items such as the Pergamon Altar, they shouldn’t expect other countries to have too much sympathy with their predicament.
It has to be added though – that Russia’s behaviour has hardly been exemplary either. Particularly in its attempts to deliberately highlight just how many artefacts they managed to illegally acquire from Germany.
Tuesday 18 June 2013
The Pergamon Museum offers a pointed message from Berlin to Russia – give our treasures back
Briefly in Berlin, I took time out to visit the Pergamon Museum, which houses –among many, many antiquities, the remains of the great temple and its altar. If you’re at all queasy about how the Elgin Marbles reached the British Museum and why they are still there, you should probably give the Pergamon temple a miss. Otherwise, it is one of the great relics of the ancient world, rescued – or looted, depending on your view – for the delectation and education of more northerly Europeans.
There are, though, good reasons why – despite any misgivings – it’s worth going. One is that the Pergamon Museum is part of a grand, and still growing, ensemble that occupies Museum Island just a short distance from the Reichstag. Clustering so many grand collections together, rather than scattering them around the city in the name of regeneration, provides a magnificent monument to high culture that is unique to Berlin.
Read the rest of this entry »