June 18, 2013
This is a very long time since the original article, because something someone said on twitter just jogged my memory about this story.
Back in 2005, the Daily Telegraph ran a story about damage sustained by the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. At the time I contacted them with some images that I had taken during a previous visit to the museum. Initially they were interested in using these as the basis for a followup article, but subsequently the idea got dropped.
Anyway – during a visit to the British Museum, I was astounded to see how openly people were touching / stroking / grabbing / climbing on ancient artefacts, although the staff who were in the room seemed to be oblivious to it. In many ways, this is in stark contrast to the sometimes rather overzealous staff at some Greek museums who will blow whistles & shout to you the moment it looks like you might be able to do something that crosses the line between viewer & artefact. That said, however annoying they appear to be sometimes, they are doing a good job of protecting priceless ancient artefacts from further damage wherever possible.
The British Museum has said that it has a policy that artefacts must not be touched, but little effort is taken to enforce this.
What this all boils down to, is the assertions by the museum in the past that they are looking after disputed items such as the Elgin Marbles well, yet from what we can see, the opposite often seems to be the case.
The photos were taken as still from a video camera – hence the relatively poor quality. The original pictures are from late 2004 – but subsequent visits to the museum have confirmed that there is little real change in the situation depicted in them.