March 26, 2010

Elginism is five years old

Posted at 5:07 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Today marks the point at which the website has been running for five years. I had the site registered for some time before that, but only with a single page of links available on it. Today marks the anniversary though of the first posting to the current site (the observant amongst you will notice that it is not the earliest post listed – this is because I later aided numerous saved articles from earlier dates).

The site itself is still largely in the same format as when it was first started – I would however like to think that in that time many of the issues have moved forward. Perhaps one of the most significant steps forward is the opening of the New Acropolis Museum – something that finally put to rest the long standing argument that the Parthenon Marbles could not be returned because there would be nowhere to put them. During the past five years, there have been many high profile (& in a lot of cases unanticipated) restitutions of disputed artefacts, showing that the cultural climate has made a definite shift towards resolving such issues. There are still many cases that remain unresolved however – the first case mentioned on this site involved the British Museum & they continue to drag their heels at every step of the way, hiding behind legal obstacles & refusing to enter into serious debate on issues of restitution. They are far from the only such institution that takes this view, but in the eyes of many, they are one of the worst.

I hope that in the next five year, the situation will have changed again – that some of the world’s great museums will realise that to lead the way in the twenty-first century means taking a radically different approach from that taken by them in the previous two hundred years. The institutions that are first to define a new operational model need to step out & admit that times have changed – that the future of museums is going to be a different one to that which they have been used to – but that if handled correctly it can be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

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  1. Matthew said,

    03.28.10 at 4:24 am

    1780 posts, 179,690 visits & 326,818 page views during that time (According to Google Analytics – which I wasn’t using for the first 6 months or so.)

  2. DR.KWAME OPOKU said,

    05.05.10 at 10:59 am

    I wish to congratulate you on this anniversary. You are performing an excellent job and hope you will continue for the next years. We will assist whenever we can.

    I share entirely the sentiments you expressed about the need for the museums, especially the major ones, to recognize that the world has changed since they were founded and to make the necessary changes for the coming years.

    For reasons one can understand but not accept, the museums seem to want to continue to work more in the manner of their predecessors and continue to hold the same views of the world. Most of what we hear from these museums sounds like rhetoric from the last two centuries. Instead of seeking accommodation with countries that have been deprived of their artefacts by Britain, the British Museum produces the same arrogant statements as the arch-imperialists of the heyday of British colonialism. Those of us who urge changes are viewed as enemies of the museum. But is a friend only the one who encourages you to continue in the old ways? Can a friend not correct you when you are absolutely wrong? Take the attitude of Neil MacGregor towards the Greeks and the demand for the return of the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles. This is no doubt a difficult issue but must he insult the Greeks by saying they have been following the methods of Lord Elgin?

    The ability to understand other peoples and their feelings seem not to be widespread in the Western museum world.


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