February 3, 2004

Guns yes, Marbles no

Posted at 1:59 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

A decision by the Royal Armouries in Leeds has suggested that it is perfectly acceptable for museums to make long term loans – under certain circumstances. This makes one wonder why the British Museum has still never seriously discussed any loan proposals table by Greece int he past.

The Times

February 02, 2004
Bagpipes or the barber of Seville?
By Richard Morrison



BRITAIN’S oldest national museum, the Royal Armouries, has never recovered from its misguided move from the Tower of London to somewhere off the Leeds ring-road. Now, with Government approval, it has devised a most peculiar stunt to supplement its £6 million annual subsidy. It is sending 270 weapons on free loan to a new gun museum being set up in Kentucky by a rich American arms collector. Such is the obsession with guns in the United States that the Armouries is confident that, in return, it will attract large donations from pistol-fixated Americans.

Which prompts the following question. Why does the Government think it is morally OK for one national museum to loan hundreds of artefacts to America, but completely unacceptable for another to loan the Elgin Marbles to Greece? Is it because:

a) Americans can be trusted with guns more than Greeks can with marbles?

b) The Americans need to be thanked for lending our soldiers proper equipment in Iraq?

c) So few people now visit the Armouries that the guns won’t be missed anyway?

Answers, on a postcard of the Parthenon, to Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary.

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