Showing results 1 - 12 of 70 for the tag: Loans.

December 14, 2014

Other Parthenon Marbles loans planned – Russia is just the start

Posted at 9:31 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In a move calculated to rachet up levels of Greek anger, Neil MacGregor has indicated that the loan of one of the Parthenon Sculptures to Russia is just the start of a larger plan.

Far from being the only time that one of the Parthenon Sculptures will leave the British Museum, he sees this as just the start, with them being lent to other institutions around the world. Apparently, some talks with other museums are already underway.

It seems that MacGregor is desperate to try & prove to Greece that if you [play by his rules, then anyone who asks is free to borrow one of the centrepieces of the British Museum’s collection. The question remains though – why should Greece stoop down & make concessions that they believe to be untrue, weakening their own case, while at the same time the British Museum concedes nothing.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Daily Telegraph

British Museum to send more Elgin Marbles abroad despite Greek anger
Museum director Neil MacGregor says “conversations are in train” about loaning more disputed Parthenon masterpieces to world museums
By Tom Parfitt, St Petersburg
5:40PM GMT 06 Dec 2014

The director of the British Museum has said it is already in talks to loan more Elgin Marbles to foreign museums.

Neil MacGregor told The Telegraph that the negotiations would continue despite the angry reaction from the government of Greece this week when it emerged that the museum was lending one of the Marbles – a headless statue of the river god, Ilissos – to the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.
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Against return of Marbles to Greece, but against loan to Russia

Posted at 9:18 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Neil MacGregor believes that everyone, Greeks & British alike, should be enthused with his decision to loan a Parthenon Sculpture to Russia.

It seems though, that even those who have in the past argued against the return of the sculptures to Greece, also believe that the loan to Russia is ill thought out.

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
The Scotsman

06 December 2014
Comment: Elgin marbles are not political pawns
by TIFFANY JENKINS

“A HIGHLY provocative, unfortunate and very rude gesture”, is how David Hill, from the campaign to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece, described, on the Today programme, the loan of one of the sculptures to the State Hermitage Museum in Russia.

It’s not often news about old marble hits the headlines, but these 2,500-year-old sculptures, taken by the Scot, Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, are exceptional – the greatest works of art in human history.
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December 13, 2014

Parthenon sculpture Hermitage loan – readers respond

Posted at 2:46 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

As one would expect, the controversial move by the British Museum to lend one of the Parthenon Marbles to Russia has illicited a number of responses from newspaper readers.

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Guardian

Squalid saga of Parthenon marbles loan to Russia
Sunday 7 December 2014

In loaning the Parthenon marbles statue of Ilissos to Russia (Loan shatters Elgin marbles claim, says Athens, 6 December), the British Museum has acted insensitively and foolishly. It is unseemly and squalid, after unanswered Greek requests for the marbles’ return, for the statue’s first move outside Britain to be to a country we ourselves have placed under sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine. At a stroke the museum has legitimised Putin’s Russia at a time when the latter’s unpredictable aggression threatens Ukraine’s existence and Europe’s wider security.

Does the museum think itself exempt from the dynamics of contemporary European politics, and that cultural diplomacy will smooth over the current crisis? Consider this: right now the Netherlands is refusing to return Scythian gold, loaned before the illegal annexation of Crimea, to four museums now under Russian control there. What is to stop Russia holding Ilissos hostage in return? In April the Russian Itar-Tass agency reported that the refusal to return the gold would result in non-cooperation between Russian and EU museums. The British Museum may well have placed one of its most priceless artefacts in serious danger. Putin has shown himself indifferent about far more.
Tony King
Barnt Green, Worcestershire
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Supporters of the British Museum’s Russian Marbles loan

Posted at 1:12 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Continuing my coverage of the loan of a Parthenon sculpture to Russia by the British Museum, here are some of the articles that express support for this move.

They range from the incorrect and naive (Dominic Selwood). Does anyone really believe that if the Greeks did what the British Museum asked then the marbles would return just like that? Firstly, there is the question of why they should endorse an assertion that they fundamentally believe is untrue. But, there is also the suspicion that when dealing with the British Museum, you are pressured to relinquish some of your position, yet end up getting nothing in return. Mr Selwood also seems to be forgetting how badly his point of view is out of synch with public opinion – as evidenced by the catastrophically low levels of endorsement of his arguments in a recent Prospect Magazine poll.

Next come the barking mad – in this instance represented by London’s mayor Borris Johnson, who has regularly in the past chosen to express how much he loves the marbles being in the British Museum, purely for his own benefit so that he can visit them more easily.

Finally there is the the indignant – incredulous querying of why the Greeks do not support this move in the same way as the British museum does, followed by tales of how they should be proud of it rather than complaining. Fairly predictably, this argument is represented its creator, Neil MacGregor. I’m sure that in the days when Britain had an empire, that this approach of telling people to feel thankful might have worked. Those days are long since gone though and countries and their peoples are more than capable of forming their own opinions on topics, without needing to take into account the instructions of those who believe the viewpoint they hold is somehow superior.

Looking at the source of the bulk of these articles, it could almost be argued though, that they are all merely manifestations of the Daily Telegraph viewpoint – that the Marbles must stay, so therefore any argument that backs this is therefore a valid one.

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:
Daily Telegraph

The Greeks can have the Elgin Marbles any time they like – if they play by the rules
The decision to lend a piece of the Elgin Marbles to Russia has nothing to do with Greece’s absurd campaign for their return
By Dominic Selwood
3:47PM GMT 05 Dec 2014

Today, everyone should be celebrating, including the Greeks. The Trustees of the British Museum have lent Russia’s stupendous State Hermitage Museum the statue of Ilissos, one of the jewels of the Parthenon sculptures. It is a new chapter in the history of these amazing sculptures, and one that underscores the promotion of education, culture, and understanding that the British Museum has always undertaken with its collections. Now citizens of Russia can also experience the wonder of this exquisite ancient art. This is a great day for Britain, Russia, and Greece.

The decision to lend the sculptures to Russia should not be seen as having anything to do with Greece’s claims over them. Despite the ongoing barrage of emotive complaints from supporters of the repatriation of the sculptures to Greece, the fact is that there is nothing that puts the British Museum’s Parthenon sculptures into a special heritage category. World museums routinely hold and exhibit artefacts from other countries. It is what they are there for, and is at the heart of their educational purpose. Stolen or illegitimate antiquities are required to be returned. Legitimate acquisitions can remain. No one seriously doubts that the Parthenon sculptures are the legal possession of the British Museum.
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December 11, 2014

Can Russia be trusted to return Parthenon sculpture to Britain?

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

This post continues my thematic reproduction of articles on the recent loan of a Parthenon sculpture to the Hermitage in St Petersburg by the British Museum.

The gist of these three articles is whether or not Putin’s Russia can be trusted to return the sculpture to Britain. Beyond that starting point though, the argument can follow various possible routes.

A lot of the reasoning here is directed at Russia rather than the Hermitage – however, in many cases, if a country wants to over-ride the wishes of its museums, it can do so fairly easily.

There are various other possible arguments that have not been put forward in these articles. One possible line of thinking is that Russia might return the sculpture to Greece – in order to gain an ally in the EU. The two countries have in common their heritage of Orthodox Christianity, but that is about as far as it goes. If Greece was to push for, or accept such an offer, it might well jeopardise their future bids to retrieve the remainder of the sculptures in the British Museum, so would not necessarily be in their interest.

Putin has in the past displayed clear support for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens, stating that “The Greeks are trying to bring back what belongs not only to them but to all humanity. This shows that your efforts are to your [the Greeks] credit and we [the Russians] will support you in this.“. He also noted that “various conquerors had attempted to remove and appropriate parts of the Parthenon” which was “one of the most outstanding monuments of humanity

I have to say though, that past experience with some of the news sources involved here leads me to doubt the likelihood of some of these stories actually turning out to be any more than just speculation.

On a separate note, it is disappointing (but not surprising) to see that Neil MacGregor continues to make the assertion that Greece has never asked for a loan of the sculptures – something that has already been proved incorrect by this post I made a few days ago.

It is also interesting to see that the Director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovskiy, describes the loan as an important artistic and political gesture. This directly contradicts what the British Museum told me on twitter – that “Being independent of government, we work directly with museums so that dialogues can develop free from political considerations“. So is what they are doing a political gesture or not? I think most would argue that whether or not it is the intention to deny political involvement, this doesn’t necessarily make the gesture apolitical.

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Daily Mail

Fears raised that Elgin Marbles sculpture sent to Russia ‘won’t be sent back’ – as British Museum claims Greece has never formally asked for them to be returned
By Jenny Awford for MailOnline
Published: 11:49, 6 December 2014 | Updated: 15:32, 6 December 2014

Fears are growing for the safety of part of the Elgin marbles loaned to Russia, as British museum trustees admitted they were worried the sculpture might not come back.

The unveiling of the headless statue of Greek river-god Ilissos at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg yesterday prompted a furious diplomatic row with Greece.
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December 10, 2014

Russia is the wrong place to lend a Parthenon sculpture to

Posted at 6:29 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In coverage of the recent loan of a Parthenon sculpture to Russia by the British Museum, a number of themes have emerged.

One of these themes is that we should not be making (masssice, groundbreaking) loans to Putin’s Russia. This current story comes at a time of continuing tension in the Ukraine and with the EU applying sanctions against Russia. Surely, one must conclude that they not a country for Britain to be rewarding and ingratiating themselves to at this current point in time.

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Guardian

The British Museum is wrong to loan the Parthenon marbles to Russia
The UK has chosen sanctions as a weapon against Russia, so why are we now inviting cultural exchanges?
Hugh Muir
Friday 5 December 2014 10.57 GMT

Time passes and memories fade, but does anyone remember Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the one shot down by Russian-backed separatists over Ukraine in July? All 298 passengers were killed when a missile downed the airliner. I knew one of the victims a few years back: Glenn Thomas, a very affable British journalist who worked for the World Health Organisation and was on his way to a health conference in Australia.

We were pretty angry about that, and about what Vladimir Putin has been up to in Ukraine, and so for some time we have been trying to impose some sort of pressure on the Russian president by applying sanctions to his regime. Today, in the midst of those efforts, we learn that the British Museum has decided to loan Russia part of its hotly contested property, the Parthenon marbles, also known as the Elgin marbles.
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Further coverage of British Museum Hermitage loan

Posted at 9:35 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Further general coverage of the loan by the British Museum to the Hermitage of one of the Parthenon Sculptures.

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:
Museums Association

British Museum loans Parthenon Marbles to Hermitage Museum
Patrick Steel
05.12.2014

The British Museum is to lend a marble sculpture of the river god Ilissos, part of the Parthenon Marbles, to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia.

According to the British Museum, it is the first time that one of the Parthenon Marbles has been requested for a loan, and will be the first time the marbles have left the museum.

Neil MacGregor, the museum’s director, said: “This sculpture speaks of the world of Socrates and Plato. A great work of art, it embodies the belief in the supreme value of rational debate among free citizens.
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December 9, 2014

Turkey supports Greece in fight to reunify Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 3:24 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Historically, Turkey and Greece have not necessarily seen eye to eye. Turkey has in the past however supported Greece in their attempts to reunify the Parthenon Sculptures.

Following the recent loan by the British Museum to the Hermitage of one of the sculptures originally removed by Elgin, Turkey has once again come out in support of Greece’s restitution requests.

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors passing a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Hurriyet Daily News

Turkey backs Greek fight for Elgin Marbles
ATHENS – Anadolu Agency
December/07/2014

Turkey on Dec. 6 announced its support for Greece’s fight to get back from Britain the famous Elgin Marbles – ancient Greek sculptures also known as the Parthenon Marbles which were taken from Athens in the 19th century.

The dispute over the British Museum’s possession of the sculptures, taken by British diplomat Lord Elgin in 1803, flared this week when Greece learned of the unprecedented loan of one sculpture to a Russian museum.
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December 8, 2014

Greece responds angrily to Russian Parthenon sculpture loan

Posted at 1:05 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Unsurprisingly, the Greek government is not too impressed with the way that the British Museum recently loaned one of the Parthenon Sculptures to the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Various past Greek approaches for loans & to discuss the issue have been snubbed, yet it appears that the British Museum is perfectly happy to lend the sculptures to other institutions.

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

Visitors look at a sculpture from the Parthenon marbles at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia

From:
Guardian

Parthenon marbles: Greece furious over British loan to Russia
Greek prime minister says loan of statue from pillaged frieze puts end to British Museum argument that disputed antiquities are immovable
Helena Smith in Athens
Friday 5 December 2014 15.38 GMT

Greece has reacted with outrage to the British Museum’s surprise move to loan one of the disputed Parthenon marbles to Russia.

Within hours of learning of the unexpected decision to send the monumental statue of the river god Ilissos to the State Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaris, hit back.
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December 7, 2014

Arrogance & duplicity – the British loan of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 2:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Kwame Opoku response here to the latest actions taken by the British Museum – sending one of the Parthenon Sculptures on loan to the Hermitage.

He makes some very good points. MacGregor talks about “cultural diplomacy”, but the method by which he practises it is likely to create just as much bad as it does good. What is the benefit of ingratiating yourself to one institution with whom you already have a close working relationship, if at the same time you cause deep anger and resentment to an entire country, which has regularly worked with and supported your institution in the past?

For reasons that still confound me, MacGregor believes that the Parthenon Sculpture was the most appropriate item to lend. How it was somehow more appropriate in this situation not to lend either a Russian, or British artefacts. Had they not been snubbed in such a peculiar way, I’m sure that Greece might previously have considered loaning Ancient Greek, or perhaps Orthodox Icons (showing the common heritage of Orthodox Christianity that the countries share) to Russia.

Greece has in the past made every effort to be cooperative with the British Museum. Even in the letter sent to them refusing a loan of the Marbles, the British Museum acknowledges this. Clearly cooperation counts for little in the game that MacGregor is playing and it is time for Greece to re-think their strategy.

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:
Kwame Opoku (by email)

Arrogance, duplicity and defiance with no end: British Museum loans Parthenon Marble to Russia
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning, MacGregor said he hoped the Greek government would be delighted that the sculpture would now be on display to a new audience”.

As if to reinforce its defiance against the will of the British people and the vast majority of States, the UNESCO, United Nations and all those who have urged that the British Museum return the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles to Greece, the venerable museum that is known to hoard thousands of looted artefacts of others, has sent one of the Parthenon Marbles to Russia on loan for an exhibition from 6 December 2014 until 18 January 2015. (1)

The headless statue of a Greek river god will be displayed in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg as part of the celebrations for the institution’s 250th anniversary. Though the Director of the Museum and the Board of Trustees are delighted with the loan, they have not disclosed the terms of the arrangement with Russia.
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December 5, 2014

British Museum Director on Parthenon Marbles Hermitage loan

Posted at 6:26 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor sets out why he believes that the loan of the Parthenon Sculptures to the hermitage in St Petersburg is entirely appropriate.

As expected, it falls back on MacGregor’s old favourite reasoning – that is to say, the Universal Museum. While what MacGregor describes as Universal Museums may have existed for a long time though, you will not see any mention in the press of such a concept prior to 2002.

We must remember that these so called Universal Museums are entirely self appointed entities. Outside of the new world, almost all have their roots in the era of colonialism & empires. They never asked the permission of the other countries whose artefacts they exhibit. They can only justify it now, through being bigger than the other museums. It is an incredibly elite club & the barriers to entry (both legal & financial) are such that it would be almost important to create similar institutions today.

It is interesting that MacGregor makes much of the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran – conveniently forgetting that for years the British Museum reneged on a prior reciprocal loan agreement to the infuriation of Iran. The loan only eventually proceeded after Iran threatened to withdraw all cultural cooperation with the museum.

It is clear that the Hermitage has cooperated with the British Museum numerous times in the past, meaning that they are in the institutions good books. However, this is also the case with Greece, that has on regular occasions loaned artefacts & never made any threats to withdraw cooperation in the way that Iran did.

He ends with a justification for the choice of the Parthenon Sculptures (rather than any of the eight million or so (by their own estimation) other items in their collection). This section is where it gets particularly hazy, with the rationale essentially boiling down to the fact that Pericles (under whose instruction the Parthenon was built) was a great statesman who understood the value of being seen as an ambassador abroad. From this vagueness, he jumps straight onto the presumption that “Pericles would applaud the journey of Ilissos to Russia”.

Certainly, there is some slight value to this justification, but the same could be said of many other items in the British Museum’s collection. And if this is seen as a valid reasoning behind a loan, then surely the overwhelming moral & contextual argument of unification presented by Greece presents a far more compelling case?

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:
British Museum

December 5, 2014 • 12:15 am
Loan of a Parthenon sculpture to the Hermitage: a marble ambassador of a European ideal
Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum

The British Museum is a museum of the world, for the world and nothing demonstrates this more than the loan of a Parthenon sculpture to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg to celebrate its 250th anniversary.

The British Museum opened its doors in 1759, just five years before the Hermitage. Sisters, almost twins, they are the first great museums of the European Enlightenment. But they were never just about Europe. The Trustees of the British Museum were set up by Parliament to hold their collection to benefit not only the citizens of Great Britain, but ‘all studious and curious persons’ everywhere. The Museum today is the most generous lender in the world, sending great Assyrian objects to China, Egyptian objects to India and Iranian objects to the United States – making a reality of the Enlightenment ideal that the greatest things in the world should be seen and studied, shared and enjoyed by as many people in as many countries as possible.
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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