Showing results 13 - 24 of 715 for the tag: Cultural Property.

December 5, 2014

Greece’s Parthenon Marbles loan request that was rejected

Posted at 5:21 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Nobody can have missed the British Museum’s loan to the Hermitage of one of the Parthenon Sculptures.

The more I look into it though, the more questions it raises.

Museum loans do not normally happen under cover of darkness – yet this loan was only announced once the sculpture had already been packed up and left the museum – why was this the case.

Greece has for many years taken a policy of quiet diplomacy, but it appears that this pays absolutely no dividends in the game that the British Museum is currently playing.

I can understand that the British Museum might have wanted to make a loan to the Hermitage for their anniversary. Quite why this had to be the Parthenon Marbles is also unclear (although MacGregor argues otherwise).

There are positive points though. In the past, it has often been hinted that there are items in the British Museum’s collection that are too important, to integral to the collection to be loaned, but this latest move clearly shows that it possible for the Parthenon Marbles to leave the building, even if it is only one piece at a time.

The British Museum also states that ‘no talks had ever been held with the Greek government about a loan of part of the Parthenon marbles. “To date they have always made it clear that they would not return them. That rather puts the conversation on pause,”

This last statement is clearly untrue, as there are letters on file relating to loan requests dating to 2002, between Sir John Boyd (then chair of the British Museum trustees) and Evangelos Venizelos (the Greek Minister of Culture). The Director of the British Museum was then, as it is now, Neil MacGregor.

Thank you to Dorothy King for alerting me to the presence of this letter. CLick on the images to view them full size.

Letter from British Museum Trustees Chair, Sir John Boyd, to Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos rejecting a loan request - Page 1

Letter from British Museum Trustees Chair, Sir John Boyd, to Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos rejecting a loan request – Page 1

Letter from British Museum Trustees Chair, Sir John Boyd, to Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos rejecting a loan request - Page 2

Letter from British Museum Trustees Chair, Sir John Boyd, to Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos rejecting a loan request – Page 2

So, not only does the museum deny that a loan request was ever made despite having written:

…it remains the opinion of the Board of Trustees that the Parthenon Sculptures in the collection of the British Museum can not be lent to the museum currently under development in Athens, whether in the manner you proposed or for a temporary period.

But they previously hinted that despite any “no loan” list, the Parthenon Sculptures could not be loaned at all:

…we do believe there is a prima facie assumption against the lending of key objects in the Museum’s collections which are normally on display and which the public reasonably expect to see in the Museum. The sculptures are precisely among that group of key objects indispensable to the Museum’s essential, universal purpose, and thus fall into the category of objects that can not be lent.

Just in cases anyone was unclear after the above statement, the letter goes on to reiterate:

I am bound in all frankness, to repeat that I cannot envisage the circumstances under which the Trustees would regard it as being in the Museum’s interest, or consistent with its duty, to endorse a loan, permanent or temporary, of the Parthenon Sculptures in its collections.

The above statement make no comment regards who the applicant is – merely that the Parthenon Sculptures can not be loaned, not under any circumstances, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Clearly different rules apply however, depending who is asking…

A copy of the complete text of the letter follows below:

The British Museum
14 November 2002
H.E. Mr Evangelos Venizelos
Minister of Culture
Hellenic Ministry of Culture

Your Excellency

The Parthenon Sculptures in the collections of the British Museum

It was a great pleasure to welcome you – though this was no, I know, your first visit – to the British Museum.

The Director and I are delighted to have held discussions with you and your colleagues on the Parthenon sculptures in the Museum’s collections and other matters. The exchanges suggested to me that there are many areas in which we can and should cooperate.

As I mentioned in our meeting, I am especially pleased to note that Dr Choremi, the Ephor of the Acropolis will speak at the Museum on Friday, 15 November, and that the British Museum is able to make generous loans to two exhibitions in Athens as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2004. These are important examples of the fruitful cultural and academic relations that exist between us – and which can, I am sure, be developed further.

The Director and I naturally listened very carefully to what you had to say about the Parthenon Sculptures in our collections. I am grateful for the manner in which you approached the topic; grateful too for the understanding shown during the meeting for the Museum’s position. Nevertheless, it remains the opinion of the Board of Trustees that the Parthenon sculptures in the collections of the British Museum cannot be lent to the new museum currently under development in Athens, whether in the manner you proposed or for a temporary period.

Let me rehearse again the basis for our belief that the British Museum is the best possible place for these wonderful sculptures to be on display, as an essential chapter within the worldwide story of human cultural achievement. It is precisely this story which the Museum exists to tell through the rich and multi-faceted character of its worldwide collections. The ideas, aesthetics and skills of 5th century Greek civilisation are regarded here as elsewhere as central to this human experience. I am not sure that contemporary changes in political and economic attitudes, adduced at one point in our discussion, alter the point.

The Museum exists not only to delight but to instruct and provoke reflection. Its great collections, in close proximity, are seen by five million visitors every year entirely free of entry charge. The Parthenon Sculptures are integral to this unique experience.

When considering whether to make a loan the Trustees are required, by Act of Parliament, to have regard to the interest of the Museum’s visitors. While there is no list of objects that can never be lent, we do believe there is a prima facie assumption against the lending of key objects in the Museum’s collections which are normally on display and which the public reasonably expect to see in the Museum. The sculptures are precisely among that group of key objects indispensable to the Museum’s essential, universal purpose, and thus fall into the category of objects that can not be lent.

The Director and I much appreciated the opportunity to discuss these various matters frankly and in such a friendly context, and to establish friendly contact and undertake such an exchange of views between us. This must surely contribute to a relationship which we very much wish to promote and expand.

Again though, as I said in our meeting, I would not wish you to leave with the impression that any negotiation on the issue you raised is underway. This would be misleading. I am bound in all frankness, to repeat that I cannot envisage the circumstances under which the Trustees would regard it as being in the Museum’s interest, or consistent with its duty, to endorse a loan, permanent or temporary, of the Parthenon Sculptures in its collections.

I should like to end by thanking you for the kind gift of the coin replicas from the Numismatic Museum in Athens. They are especially appropriate ass a symbol of the co-operation that exists between us, in the light of the recent collaborative British Museum / Numismatic Museum Internet project, Presveis: One Currency for Europe, which, I was delighted to see, is available on the Ministry of Culture’s website.

Yours sincerely

John Boyd

Sir John Boyd
Chairman

British Museum can loan Parthenon Marbles, just not to Greece

Posted at 1:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

There are so many things wrong with this story that it is hard to know where to start. It seems that MacGregor is absolutely intent in snubbing Greece at all costs, to ingratiate the other so called Universal Museums of the world.

Grumpy art Historian has already written a good piece highlighting some of the many anachronisms with this approach.

It seems that the British Museum is currently more willing to lend artefacts to countries that regularly endorse the actions of terrorist groups (Iran) and countries that directly support rebel groups who blow up civilian airliners (Russia) than it is to lend to Greece.

In the past, Greece has made much of the benefits of its approach that involves quiet diplomacy to try & resolve the issue, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that this is not really moving things forward at all. There do not appear to be any rewards for good behaviour in this game.

I imagine that Britain’s & Russia’s museums will get on quite well together, afterall, Russia also has large amounts of disputed artworks, acquired during a variety of different means.

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum plans to loan the river-god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St Petersburg

Part of the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum plans to loan the river-god Ilissos to the Hermitage in St Petersburg

From:
Guardian

Parthenon marbles loaned to Russian museum
Chris Johnston
Friday 5 December 2014 00.55 GMT

Part of the Parthenon marbles have been allowed to leave Britain for the first time through a loan of a sculpture to a Russian museum.

The headless statue of a Greek river-god, Ilissos, will go on display in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg on Friday to help celebrate the institution’s 250th anniversary.
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Christies halts sale of disputed Sardinian bronze age pagan icon

Posted at 10:50 am in Similar cases

Following growing levels of protest, Christies has put on hold the sale of a 4,500 year old Bronze Age statuette, thought to be worth over $1 million.

Sardinian politician Mauro Pili has led the campaign, asking the Auction House to provide more details of who the vendor is, and requesting that the seller proves that they are the legitimate owner of the artefact.

Disputed "mother goddess" icon from Sardinia

Disputed “mother goddess” icon from Sardinia

From:
Independent

Mother Goddess auction: Christie’s halts sale of ‘stolen’ $1m Bronze Age pagan icon after Sardinia campaigns for its return
Michael Day
Rome – Tuesday 02 December 2014

A campaign in Sardinia to reclaim a 4,500-year-old pagan idol from a US auction house is gathering pace ahead of its scheduled sale next week, as Italy steps up the fight against the theft of its precious cultural patrimony.

Christie’s in New York had listed the marble religious artefact Dea Madre, or Mother Goddess, dating from about 2500BC, for sale on 11 December. Auctioneers hoped to sell the Bronze Age statuette for as much as $1.2m (£770,000). But campaigners claimed an initial victory today after hearing that the sale had been put on hold.
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Call to return of Chronicles of Man from British Library

Posted at 10:37 am in Similar cases

The Manx branch of the Celtic League is making new calls for the Chronicles of Man to be permanently exhibited on the Isle of Man.

The Chronicles of Man are a medieval manuscript originating in the Isle of Man, but currently held by the British Library in London.

The Chronicles of Man, currently in the British Library

The Chronicles of Man,, currently in the British LibraryThe Chronicles of Man, currently in the British Library

From:
Isle of Man Today

Call to return Chronicles of Man
Published on the 04 December 2014 11:45

The Manx branch of the Celtic League is reviving a campaign to bring the Chronicles of Man home.

At its monthly meeting in November, it urged a renewed effort by the General Council of the League to pressure both the British and Manx governments to ensure the Chronicles of Man and the Isles are exhibited permanently in the Isle of Man.
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December 3, 2014

A legal approach to the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 3:21 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

When there was all the publicity surrounding the visit of lawyers to Athens a few weeks back, a journalist from To Vima, the Greek newspaper, contacted me (along with numerous others) with some questions.

The published article in Greek contained a few of the answers I gave, but I think it is worth posting the whole lot in full here.

Bear in mind, that I am not a lawyer – however, I have been present at meetings between lawyers & senior Greek officials in 2011, and party to various other high level discussions on the issue.

What I have written below should not be seen in any ways as a comprehensive discussion of the possible legal approaches, along with their benefits & risks, but merely brief answers based on the specific questions that I was asked.

Do you think it would be a “catastrophic” course of action? If yes, why? In any case, which court would, or should, make such a judgment?

At present, we must remember that all that is happening is that the Greek government is exploring the various options available to them. This is not the first time that such an approach has been considered – previous discussions between the Greek Government, and a team jointly led by Geoffrey Robertson and Norman Palmer took place in early 2011.

I think that anyone (from either side) who states that it would be a “catastrophic course of action”, is either scaremongering, or not fully aware of the range of possible approaches available and the variety of ways in which they might be applied.

One thing to be clear about, is that to achieve the goal of the return of the return of the Marbles, legal action does not necessarily have to succeed, but could merely be a catalyst for precipitating a chain of events leading to their return.
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France aims to return Aboriginal remains to Australia

Posted at 9:17 am in Similar cases

France has agreed to work with Australia, to help return Aboriginal remains held in French public collections.

From:
ABC News

France agrees to work with Australia to bring home Aboriginal remains
Posted 19 Nov 2014, 1:11pm

Australia and France have agreed to work together to help return the remains of Aboriginal people held in French public collections.

On the first official visit by a French head of state to Australia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and French president Francois Hollande said their nations would open a consultation on how to return the human remains.
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November 24, 2014

Promakhos depicts a legal case for return of Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 8:17 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

More coverage of the Promakhos movie which is now scheduled to open in Greek cinemas from November 27th onwards.

Promotional image for the Promakhos movie

Promotional image for the Promakhos movie

from:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday November 24, 2014
New film, ‘Promakhos,’ makes case for return of Parthenon Marbles

Two lawyers fight for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum to Greece in a film produced by Greek-American brothers Coerte and John Voorhees, due to open at theaters on Thursday, November 27.

The brothers were in the Greek capital last week to promote “Promakhos,” which they have also written and directed, and spoke to the press about the project and what they hope it can achieve. John and Coerte are the sons of a US-based lawyer who has been an active campaigner for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens. Coerte studied history and classics at Georgetown University. “Promakhos” is their first film.
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November 17, 2014

ICOMOS support for Parthenon Marbles UNESCO mediation

Posted at 11:51 pm in Elgin Marbles

ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments & Sites has recently being holding their 18th General assembly in Florence, Italy.

During this meeting, a resolution (Resolution 18GA 2014/40) was passed to:

To support the mediation process proposed by Greece for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles on the basis of UNESCO’s 2010 mediation and to encourage both parties (Greece and United Kingdom) to open a fruitful dialogue aiming at a mutually acceptable solution.

ICOMOS 18th General Assembly

ICOMOS 18th General Assembly

From:
Greek Ministry of Culture

DRAFT RESOLUTIONS – ICOMOS 2014

Proposers
ICOMOS GREECE.
Dr. ATHANASIOS NAKASIS
PRESIDENT ICOMOS GREECE

ICOMOS GREECE.
Dr. ELENA KORKA
ICOMOS GREECE – International Issues
General Director of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage
Hellenic Ministry of Culture

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND JUSTIFICATION:

In the 19th century Lord Elgin removed integral architectural sculptures from the frieze, the metopes and the pediments from the Parthenon. The Parthenon Marbles that are on display at the British Museum make up approximately 60% of the total remaining sculptural material of the monument. The need for their reunification with the other 40%, now exhibited in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, is a cultural desideratum. It will be to the benefit of every visitor (scholar or not), who seeks to view the Parthenon and its historical environment. The issue of the Parthenon Marbles is continuously on the agenda of the Committee for the Promotion of the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin (ICPRCP) since 1984. Twenty two (22) Committees all over the world were founded in support of the reunification, while polls carried out through the years, show the high public interest on the issue.
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November 16, 2014

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Posted at 10:08 pm in Similar cases

A new bill in the House of Representatives in the USA aims to limit ISIS funding, by prohibiting the import of Syrian antiquities.

Various studies have indicated that the trade in looted artefacts has played a key role in ISIS’s funding in recent months.

If the bill is passed, its remit is wider than the current ISIS situation in Syria & Northern Iraq, allowing it to apply to other areas of instability around the world, where looting is taking place.

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

From:
US Committee of the Blue Shield

Breaking news: bill in House to protect cultural property
The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Legislation to protect cultural property worldwide and curb ISIL funding by prohibiting import of Syrian antiquities was introduced into the House by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2014

Contacts:
Tim Mulvey (Engel) 202-226-9103
Jeff Sagnip (Smith) 202-225-3765
Engel, Smith offer bill to preserve cultural preservation preservation, curb ISIL funding

WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations today announced that they have introduced legislation to improve American efforts to preserve cultural property around the world and cut off one source of funding to ISIL. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (H.R. 5703) would take steps to coordinate efforts across government to preserve cultural artifacts where they may be threatened by conflict, instability, or natural disaster.
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November 14, 2014

Neil MacGregor on the Parthenon Marbles – Greece responds

Posted at 11:40 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Following Kwame Opoku’s reponse to British Museum Director Neil MacGregor’s recent comments on the Parthenon Marbles, the Greek Ministry of Culture have also forwarded me their own response, highlighting the many inaccuracies & inconsistencies in MacGregor’s interview.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Greek Ministry of Culture (by email)

Response to comments made by Neil MacGregor in an interview in the Times on 7th November

1. UNESCO, which has invited the Greek and the British Governments to take part in a mediation process to resolve the issue, is an intergovernmental organization. However, the Trustees of the British Museum are not part of the British government. It is the Trustees and not the Government that own the great cultural collections of the country.

UNESCO is indeed an intergovernmental organization. It is hard to believe that a Government would discuss an issue it does not have competence on. It is hard to believe that if there were political will from the UK for the return of the Marbles to Greece the BM would resist this will. Negotiations conducted all those years with the good services of UNESCO were between the two States (Greece and the UK). Yet, a BM representative was always there. In any case the links at all levels between the BM and the UK Government are well known. Returns have already been effected in Britain on the basis of changes in the law such as the enactment of the Human Tissue Act 2004. This Act enabled the return of human remains located in UK museum collections (under the same status as the one applying to the Marbles). Those were unethically removed from Australian Aboriginals, New Zealand Maori and Native Americans and were returned to their countries of origin. In this light persistence in formalities can only be used as an evasion of the real issue.
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Lord Elgin – enlightened liberator or avaricious looter?

Posted at 11:26 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The heightened interest in the Parthenon Marbles following the visit by a team of lawyers to Athens has prompted many recent articles on the subject.

Here, Vicky Pryce & Dominic Selwood argue the cases on opposite sides of the restitution debate.

Remember to vote in the poll on the website at the top of the original article.

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

From:
Prospect

Duel: should we return the Elgin marbles?
Did Lord Elgin liberate or steal these priceless historic artefacts? Our panellists battle it out
by Vicky Pryce, Dominic Selwood / November 13, 2014
Published in December 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine

About authors

Vicky Pryce (Yes)
Vicky Pryce is a Greek economist and former joint head of the UK’s Government Economic Service

Dominic Selwood (No)
Dominic Selwood is a historian and barrister

Yes
At the beginning of the 19th century, Thomas Bruce, Lord Elgin, was the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Greece. He entered the Parthenon in Athens and documented the sculptures, making moulds and casts. He bribed Turkish officials to allow him to engage in daily excavations before removing a large part of the marbles to Britain. Bribing occupying powers to purloin national treasures is not the sort of behaviour usually deemed worthy of a British Ambassador.

The looting that happened during the Second World War has, on the whole, been made good. No one accepts the right of those who occupied half of Europe to walk off with the revered relics of those subjugated nations in the 20th century. So why was it acceptable to do so in the 19th century?
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MacGregor and Cuno – in harmony over opposition to restitution

Posted at 11:07 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Neil MacGregor’s comments earlier this week about the Parthenon Marbles and why he believed that they should remain in his museum.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Modern Ghana

Feature Article | 14 November 2014 Last updated at 12:28 CET
British Museum Director Defends Once More Retention Of Parthenon Marbles
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.

“Yes. It’s not even a Greek monument. Many other Greek cities and islands protested bitterly about the money taken from them to build this in Athens.”– Neil MacGregor on the Parthenon Marbles.

On reading the recent statements of Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, regarding the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, I had to remind myself constantly that I was not reading an old article but a fresh report of an interview with Richard Morrison, in the British newspaper, the Times.

The director of the British Museum has not changed, improved or modified his position on the issues. (1) He is singing the same song as James Cuno even though in a different key. (2) We shall spare the reader the time and effort of going through all the untenable British arguments which have been discussed elsewhere. (3)
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