Showing results 1 - 12 of 21 for the tag: Evangelos Venizelos.

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

November 6, 2014

Venizelos offers Britain other loans in return for Marbles

Posted at 8:28 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Reading some of this article feels a bit like history repeating itself. Back in late 2002, when Evangelos Venizelos was Culture Minister, he presented the UK with a summary of the limitations of Greece’s demands for the Marbles, along with what they might expect to receive in return. In effect, what he came up with was a win-win situation, although the British Museum refused to recognise it as such.

Many changes of government later, after being finance minister during possibly the toughest of times during the unravelling of the Greek debt crisis, Venizelos is now Deputy Prime Minister in the current coalition government. He has take the opportunity of announcing loans of artefacts to an exhibition in Canada, as an opportunity to re-iterate these demands. This is great news, as for many years, there was no clear offer on the table & there was much speculation in the absence of a new offer, as to whether the old one was still valid. What Venizelos describes here sounds remarkable similar – if anything more flexible (perpetual loan, rather than a series of separate short term loans).

As a separate point, in the past, I have highlighted that Greece has never really withdrawn cooperation from Britain to put pressure on them in the way that other countries (notably Iran) have tried to, to secure artefact returns. From what Venizelos describes though, it seems that the deal with Canada could be the evidence of a similar sort of strategy. Greece will not stop cooperating with Britain – but it will offer greater levels of cooperation to other countries wanting to organise temporary exhibitions etc.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos

From:
Ottawa Citizen

Greece hopes exhibit at Museum of History will help free Elgin Marbles from Britain
Don Butler
Published on: November 3, 2014Last Updated: November 3, 2014 1:30 PM EST

ATHENS • Greece hopes a blockbuster exhibit coming to the Canadian Museum of History next year will boost its argument for repatriating the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum, foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos said Monday.

In an act the Greeks have long characterized as looting, British diplomat Lord Elgin removed about half of the surviving classical Greek sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens between 1801 and 1812 and shipped them to Britain.

The British government purchased the artifacts in 1816 and passed them to the British Museum in London, where they remain on display to this day.

In a meeting with Canadian journalists and officials from the Canadian Museum of History, Venizelos was asked if Greece’s willingness to allow more than 500 rare artifacts to travel to Canada and the United States was partly a tactic to ramp up pressure on the British to return the long-sought sculptures.
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August 10, 2009

A proposed solution for the Elgin Marbles problem

Posted at 12:35 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The solution to the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures suggested in this article is actually not that did-similar to the idea outlined by Evangelos Venizelos, the culture minister under the previous PASOK government.

From:
The Independent

Boyd Tonkin: ‘Prudent people tend to hold their tongues when they’re with a journalist’
Tales of the City
Tuesday, 4 August 2009

[snip]

Two cities, two museums, and two starkly opposed ideas of cultural values and how to present them. Last weekend, on a suitably monsoon-like summer afternoon, I savoured the mind-bending colour and design of the royal paintings from Jodhpur at the British Museum’s Garden and Cosmos exhibition. These truly fabulous visions, lent by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, have never been beyond India before. But when it comes to captions for mystically-inspired artworks that illustrate the doctrines of the Nath sect of gurus, the BM’s admirable relativism about differing belief systems shoots off the scale. Visitors are informed with a straight face that the Nath holy men of two centuries ago appealed to Rajasthani rulers because of their powers (for instance) to end droughts and burn down rival cities. (Thanks to the practice of hatha yoga, they also claimed the secrets of immortality.) No giggling at the back, now. Luckily, this spellbinding art can tell its own far more credible story.

A fortnight earlier, in Athens, I visited the institution that probably wishes it could burn the BM down by force of will just now: the airy new Acropolis Museum. In the circular row over the fate of Elgin/Parthenon Marbles, the BM claims its Greek antagonists portray the temple and its sculptures as a purely local achievement rather than relating it to the art of Egypt, Persia or Assyria. That’s largely true: in Athens, few multicultural comparisons dim the glory that was Greece.
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November 22, 2003

Are the Parthenon Marbles more about politics than archaeology

Posted at 1:43 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

The reality of the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles is that it has progressively become more politically oriented as time has elapsed since they were first removed from Greece. This is not to say though that there aren’t also good archaeological reasons supporting their return.

From:
The Guardian

Arts and humanities | Comment
Moving the marbles
The case for the Parthenon frieze is more about about politics than archaeology or public access, writes Mike Pitts
Saturday November 22, 2003

Whatever side you take on the case for moving the fragmentary 5th century BC Parthenon frieze from London to Athens, recent events show that the arguments are more about politics than archaeology or public access.

In 2001, MP Edward O’Hara proposed that the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Athens for the Olympic games next year, to fill the otherwise empty museum being built by Greece at a reported cost of £29m (in case anyone missed the hint, the Greek culture minister, Evangelos Venizelos, presented the UK with a virtual tour of the marbles in the new museum). The prime minister, Tony Blair, told Greece the art belonged to the British Museum, a view recently echoed, in refreshingly diplomatic language, by the museum’s present director, Neil MacGregor.
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August 19, 2003

Controversy surrounds the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 8:34 am in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum represents the best possible location for reuniting the surviving Elgin Marbles, but has also stirred up a lot of controversy. It is worth noting though, that a lot of the issues are more politically motivated, rather than stemming from the actual project itself.

From:
BBC News

Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Acropolis building site stirs up storm
By Richard Galpin
BBC, Athens

If visitors to the Acropolis in central Athens were to cast their eyes across the city to the south-east, they would soon spot a large gap in the densely populated neighbourhood of Markryianni, just a stone’s-throw away.

It is a building site for a controversial new Acropolis museum.
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August 13, 2003

Does Greece claim ownership of the Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 9:02 am in Elgin Marbles

In what could be seen as a big step forward, Greece has agreed that the ownership of the Parthenon Marbles is an area that is still up for discussion in any negotiations about their return.

This point has traditionally been a major sticking point, with the British Museum claiming ownership & Greece refusing to accept this, so that the discussions do not move on beyond this one issue.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Tuesday August 12, 2003
Ownership of Marbles still open, Greece says

In a new sign of how wide the gap is between Athens and London regarding the ownership of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos denied yesterday that it had renounced ownership of the fifth-century BC sculptures.

«As nuances are very important, I must repeat that the Greek government has never stated it recognizes the British Museum’s legal title to the Parthenon Marbles,» Venizelos said. «What we have said is that we do not raise the legal issue of ownership, as we wish to find a friendly and consensual solution that will allow a joint exhibition of the Marbles in the new Acropolis Museum.»
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June 17, 2003

Could a joint venture between UK & Greece solve the Elgin Marbles problem?

Posted at 8:19 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

A possible resolution to the dispute over the Elgin Marbles has been proposed, whereby Greece would operate the New Acropolis Museum as an annexe of the British Museum, allowing the London institution to retain ownership & control of the sculptures, while they would be on public display in Greece.

From:
Greece Now

Joint venture could solve Marbles deadlock
Greece offers annex of new Acropolis Museum to the British Museum to host exhibition

Greece has offered to host a joint-exhibition of the Parthenon Marbles (known in the UK as the Elgin Marbles) with the British Museum in a bid to end the tug of war over the sculptures in time for the Athens 2004 Olympics.

The Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos offered an annex of the planned Acropolis museum, being built in time for the Games, to revive stalled talks over the ancient Greek sculptures.
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May 20, 2003

Greek courts rule against New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 5:09 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Greece’s courts have ruled against the legality of the planning permission for the New Acropolis Museum. The government has however vowed to ensure that the project can continue & is attempting to rectify the issues that led to this decision.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday May 19, 2003
New blow to Acropolis Museum?
Court reportedly rejects plan

The much-delayed project to build a new Acropolis Museum under the ancient citadel before the 2004 Olympics appears to have suffered a new blow, according to weekend reports that Greece’s highest administrative court has rejected initial plans for the 94-million-euro building.

Sources quoted by the Athens News Agency on Saturday and the Sunday Ethnos said the plenary session of the Council of State unanimously decided that the initial study for construction of the building, on the basis of which the construction permit was issued, illegally allowed the destruction of antiquities on the site that had been set aside for preservation. The ruling, which will not be officially made public for several weeks, also reportedly mentions that the Culture Ministry’s Supreme Archaeological Council has not sanctioned the destruction, as it is legally bound to do.
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February 16, 2003

The Universal Museum – a reckless approach to international cultural relations

Posted at 8:29 am in British Museum, Similar cases

The declaration on “Universal Museums” has been met with trepidation by many, who think that it exhibits an out of date approach to cultural property & international diplomacy.

From:
The Art Newspaper

“A George Bush approach to international relations”
ICOM and lobby groups react with hostility to appeal by leading museum directors to view collections acquired in earlier times as important to “universal museums”
By Martin Bailey

LONDON. In our January issue we published the declaration on “universal museums”, signed by the directors of more than 30 of the world’s greatest museums. These included the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, the Hermitage, the Berlin State Museums and the Rijksmuseum (The Art Newspaper, no. 132, January 2003, pp.1,6).

The statement argued that “objects acquired in earlier times must be viewed in the light of different sensitivities and values, reflective of that earlier era.” Despite demands for repatriation, the directors stressed the importance of the “universal museum”, where world culture is on display.
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January 27, 2003

Virtually reuniting the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:57 pm in Elgin Marbles, Parthenon 2004

A new exhibition, titled Marbles Reunited aims to demonstrate how much is gained if the surviving Parthenon Sculptures are reunited in one place, rather than fragmented between different museums.

From:
BBC News

Monday, 27 January, 2003, 14:11 GMT
Science reunites Elgin Marbles

A virtual reality exhibition showing how the Elgin Marbles would look if they were reunited goes on display at the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

The latest technology is being used to simulate how the 5th Century BC sculptures will appear if they are reunited with the rest of the Parthenon Marbles in Athens.
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January 18, 2003

Athens resident thanked for Parthenon Marbles petition

Posted at 1:20 pm in Elgin Marbles

Greece’s culture minister has thanked a Plaka resident who collected over 27,000 signatures from foreign visitors who wanted the Parthenon Sculptures to be returned to Athens.

From::
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Saturday January 18, 2003 – Archive
Lost Marbles

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday thanked Plaka resident Anna Sidiropoulou for gathering the signatures of 27,000 foreign visitors to Athens over the past five years on a petition for the return to Greece of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of Marbles from the Parthenon.

January 2, 2003

Marbles Reunited – a new exhibition about the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 8:07 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum, Parthenon 2004

Nowadays, the surviving Parthenon Sculptures are split between different museums. A new exhibition aims to give an idea what some of the pieces would look like if they were united together once more.

From:
BBC News

Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 17:38 GMT
Elgin Marbles make ‘virtual’ return

The return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece has been simulated in a virtual reality exhibition, showing how the Parthenon treasures would look if they went back to Athens.

The virtual exhibition was first presented to the UK during a recent visit by Greek culture minister Evangelos Venizelos.
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