Showing results 49 - 60 of 80 for the tag: Neil MacGregor.

August 4, 2009

Does anyone really believe that the Greek Government copied Elgin’s actions?

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

In a recent talk, the British Museum’s director suggested that: The Greek government has simply continued Elgin’s practice and removed the rest [of the Parthenon Marbles] now from the building. Few could sensibly argue that this was the case though. Whatever Elgin’s eventual explanations may have been, it was clear initially that he merely wanted the sculptures for his own house & was in no sense acting as a preservationist.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.

It seems there is nobody in the whole of Great Britain who can persuade the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to refrain from making atrocious statements about cultural matters, especially about cultural objects of others which have been looted or removed under dubious circumstance and brought to the British Museum. Apart from his equally offensive theory that the cultures of others can only be properly understood in the British Museum which has many other looted objects, he recently argued that the Benin bronzes were made from materials produced in Europe and that this somehow gives the British Museum legitimacy to hold the looted bronzes. The following insulting statement, made recently, is in line with his usual disrespect for others “The Greek government has simply continued Elgin’s practice and removed the rest [of the Parthenon Marbles] now from the building, because you can’t see them on the building. When those sculptures came to London, for the first time they were at a height where people could see them and they were in a place where tens, hundreds of thousands of people could see these were great objects.” (1)
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July 21, 2009

Neil MacGregor’s claims that the Elgin Marbles will not return

Posted at 12:59 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

For some reason, it appears that Neil MacGregor is now guaranteed positive coverage whenever he writes a piece for, or is interview by The Times. It seems that whatever claims he makes regarding his reasons for retention of the Parthenon Sculptures are accepted with little question or analysis.

The problem in many cases is that whilst what the British Museum is saying may be construed as a valid approach to take, it is represented as being the only valid approach, without considering the range of other possibilities or the views & sensibilities of others.

The Elgin Marbles or the Rosetta Stone may well have changed history – but there is no clear evidence that this was only the case because of the fact that they were in the British Museum.

Following the initial article are two more articles also on the British Museum, followed by a response by Kwame Opoku.

The Times

July 18, 2009
Neil MacGregor lifts British Museum’s ambition to new heights
Tristram Hunt: Commentary

This is why the Elgin Marbles are not going back. With characteristic panache, Neil MacGregor is once again making the case for the British Museum as a museum of all mankind. In 100 episodes based around 100 objects from the Bloomsbury collection, Mr MacGregor aims to cement the British Museum’s Enlightenment credentials. And he’s doing so with some ambitious inter-disciplinary thinking.

To tell a story of the world in 15 minutes through a series of objects requires a sure grasp of cultural and social anthropology. Mr MacGregor, whose most celebrated exhibition during his tenure at the National Gallery was the Seeing Salvation display of Renaissance iconography, has long understood the allure of artefacts. Indeed, he is sometimes accused of seeking to blur — in an increasingly agnostic age — the boundaries between the secular and the religious by investing the British Museum’s objects with an almost spiritual significance. But in going beyond the obviously material, in explaining the broader cultural and social currency of the collection, he will give the story of these objects a relevance far in excess of their historic context.
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July 13, 2009

Why it’s time to lose the marbles

Posted at 12:37 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum is one of the most high profile cultural projects in Europe in the last decade. The British Museum still claims that its existence does not change anything though in the argument for the reunification of the Elgin Marbles.

London Daily News

09 July, 2009 18:30 (GMT +01:00)
Why It’s Time We Lost ‘Our’ Marbles
By Gemma Brosnan

It has been described as one of the most high profile cultural projects undertaken in Europe this decade, costing over €120m after 33 years of planning.

Designed by Swiss-born/New York based architect, Bernard Tschumi and his Greek associate, Michael Photiadis, The New Acropolis museum opened in Athens last month to much fanfare, presenting a spectacular modern building boasting 226,000 square feet of glass, 150,000 square feet of display space spanning five floors and 4,000 artifacts.
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July 10, 2009

Are the Elgin Marbles really “yesterday’s question”?

Posted at 1:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Neil MacGregor talks about the digital future of museums & tries to suggest that the issue of the Elgin Marbles is “yesterday’s question”. This seems more like wishful thinking on his part however, as it is very much a current issue – particularly with the opening of the New Acropolis Museum. Furthermore, if he believes that the future of museums is digital, then why doesn’t the British Museum return the Elgin Marbles & keep a digital copy for themselves so that they can be taken care of by people who still see the value in the physical as well as the virtual.

The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles have also published a response to this article.


Museums’ future lies on the internet, say Serota and MacGregor
Museum chiefs paint multimedia future for institutions
Wednesday, 08 July 2009

Two titans of the British museum world, Sir Nicholas Serota and Neil MacGregor, last night sketched out their visions for the museum of the future.

Both said that the relationship between institutions and their audiences would be transformed by the internet. Museums, they said, would become more like multimedia organisations.
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June 25, 2009

The Economist on the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 9:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

This week’s Economist has two articles about the Parthenon Marbles. The previous week they featured an archive article from 1983 on the same subject.


Lord Elgin and the Parthenon marbles
Snatched from northern climes
Jun 25th 2009

Greek demands to get back the Elgin marbles risk stopping a better idea: museums lending their treasures

THERE is much to be said for moral clarity. Greece is insisting that the British Museum surrender the marble sculptures that Lord Elgin took down from the Parthenon and carted away in the early 1800s. Anything less, it says, would “condone the snatching of the marbles and the monument’s carving-up 207 years ago.” The Greek demand for ownership will arouse widespread sympathy, even among those who accept the British Museum’s claim to the marbles. With the opening of an impressive new museum in Athens (see article), the sculptures from the Parthenon now have good cause to be reunited, if only for artistic reasons.

But sometimes clarity is self-defeating. A previous Greek administration was willing to finesse the question of ownership and co-operate with the British Museum over a joint display of the marbles. By hardening its position, the Greek government risks driving museums everywhere into clinging to their possessions for fear of losing them. If the aim is for the greatest number of people to see the greatest number of treasures, a better way must be found.
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May 12, 2009

New home for the Parthenon Marbles unveiled

Posted at 12:41 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum opens next month, but opinion is divided on whether the Elgin Marbles should be returned from the British Museum to complete its main exhibit.

Daily Telegraph (UK)

Greek government unveils new home for Elgin Marbles
Fresh demands for the return of the Elgin Marbles are accompanying the launch next month of the £115 million Acropolis Museum, which has a reserved space for the world’s most famous piece of classical statuary.
By Andrew Pierce in Athens
Last Updated: 12:02PM BST 11 May 2009

The 270,000 sq ft museum is being established as a home for the 160-metre long strip of marble that adorned the Parthenon until 1801. The museum, which stands just 400 metres from the Parthenon, opens in June – three decades after the building was first proposed.

Antonis Samaras, the minister for culture and Athletics said: “The opening of the Acropolis Museum is a major world event. June 20th will be a day of celebration for all civilised people, not for Greeks alone. I want the Britons especially to consider the Acropolis Museum as the most hospitable place for them.”
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February 22, 2009

The British Museum as a British Institution

Posted at 12:29 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Following Neil MacGregor’s lecture on the 250th anniversary of the founding of the British Museum, Kwame Opoku responds to the assertions that it is a museum for All Humanity.


Datum: 22.02.09 22:44
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst
omments on a lecture by Neil Macgregor, British Museum Director

When I listened to the recent lecture by Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum on the 250th anniversary of the museum, I was, at least at the beginning, very relieved. (1) I thought, finally we have the director of the museum, an avid apostle of the “universal museum”, who was recently made a saint by the British press (2), admitting openly in the museum, (or is it now a temple?) that his institution is British and actually the first important institution to have in its title, the word “British”. This came in a time British workers were also asserting their nationalism. The history of the British Museum as traced by the director clearly indicated that the museum was established by a British Parliamentary Act for the British people. I heard in the lecture phrases such as

“centrally and quintessentially British”, “first public institution to be called British”, “oldest British organization” and all this was said to be “true today”.
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February 21, 2009

Museum diplomacy?

Posted at 12:15 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The British Museum is fond of terms such as Cultural Diplomacy as a way of describing some of their current initiatives, but as I have commented before, this only ever seems to occur when it is on their terms & they are in a position to call the shots.

In the case of the Shah ‘Abbas exhibition, Cultural Diplomacy seems to take the form of leveraging your looting – lending back disputed artefacts in exchange for borrowing further artefacts.


The Art of Museum Diplomacy
By WILLIAM LEE ADAMS Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

When western diplomats seek concessions from Iran, they typically dish out tough rhetoric and threaten sanctions. Neil MacGregor, the cherub-faced director of the British Museum, uses a more refined arsenal: cultural relics and priceless artifacts. In January, MacGregor traveled to Tehran to finalize the loan of treasures from eight of Iran’s best museums. In exchange, he promised to loan the National Museum of Iran the Cyrus Cylinder, a 2,500-year-old clay cylinder inscribed with decrees from the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great. Following a request by the Iranian Vice President’s office, he also vowed to raise international awareness of damage done to archaeological sites in Gaza during Israel’s recent military operation. The lofty maneuvering paid off: three weeks later, dozens of crates containing Persian rugs and 17th century mosque ornaments were winging their way to London.
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January 25, 2009

The Universal Museum – the way forward?

Posted at 1:50 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

In the anniversary lecture given by by Neil MacGregor, he predictably expounds the universal museum concept as the way forward for the British Museum. It should still be remembered that the whole Universal Museum concept is one pushed by the museum itself – no one appointed them to this role, it is not the only possible role for a museum & most importantly, the original owners of artefacts were never consulted about it.

The Universal Museum ideology neglects the circumstances of acquisition and the original context, focusing instead on the entity of the holding museum itself. This is not to say that it is without any benefits, but it should not be seen as a clear cut justification for perpetuating the status quo.

The Times

January 25, 2009
British Museum director Neil MacGregor talks collections
An extract from Neil MacGregor’s anniversary lecture where he reflects on the great works made by humans throughout history

Neil MacGregor

It was 250 years ago this month that the British Museum first opened its doors to the public. When you visit the museum today, you visit somewhere that is like no other collection, no other building on earth. It is the only place where you can, in every sense, walk through the world, and through time, and look at the whole range of what humans have made and speculate as to what they have thought.

But the British Museum’s collection is a very odd one. There are great works of art in it, of course, such as the Iris from the Parthenon or Michelangelo’s only surviving study for Adam. But the British Museum is not a museum of art. And its collection has always led to contradiction with its name. It is a matter of bafflement to many people why it is called the British Museum when such a small percentage of the objects in it are British. But it is quintessentially British. It is effectively the first public institution to be called British — rather to our irritation, the British Linen Bank got there first. It was quintessentially British in 1753, when it was founded by parliament; and it is true today.
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January 15, 2009

Time for a new era?

Posted at 1:26 pm in British Museum

The British Museum is celebrating its two 250th birthday. Maybe this should be seen as the ideal point for making a grand gesture regarding the disputed artefacts in their collection. The world has changed a lot since the founding of the museum – perhaps now, the museum can re-invent itself to once again lead the way in the world rather than dragging its heels whenever the issue of restitution is raised.

The Times

January 15, 2009
It’s 1759 and all that … or the history you never learnt at school
Ben Hoyle, Arts Correspondent


One of the salient achievements of an extraordinary year will be celebrated at the British Museum, which opened 250 years ago today. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew were also new in 1759.
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January 4, 2009

The rebranding of nationalism as internationalism

Posted at 1:52 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku reponds to the news that Neil MacGregor has been named Briton of the Year by The Times.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
03 January 2009

The choice of a personality as “Briton of the year” is clearly a matter for British nationalists and a non-Briton has no business examining the basis of such a choice. It is up to the British to indulge in such a game if they consider it worthwhile. However when a leading British newspaper, The Times, making such a designation for the first time, writes in this connection that the “British Museum is the best in the world”, that it is a museum for the world and refers to an “international society” and “global society”, calls its director whom it has selected as Briton of the year”, “Saint Neil” and declares that “his most profound belief is that the British Museum was established for the benefit of all nations”, then non-Britons are provoked to comment.

The respectable British newspaper is repeating what it must know to be incorrect, namely that the British Museum is there for the world or humanity.
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December 29, 2008

British Museum director is Briton of the Year

Posted at 1:36 pm in British Museum

According to the Times Newspaper, British Museum Director Neil MacGregor is the Briton of the Year. Whilst this may or may not be the case, the articles do seem to take a very similar tone to the sycophantic ones about the museum published in the summer.

One also has to put things in perspective – there are some achievements at the museum that can be credited to Neil MacGregor, but many others can not. For example, the Great Court was planned & under construction for many years before he started working there – which also led to reduced visitor figures in the prior period, as the museum felt like a building site much of the time. Similarly, he took over at a time when international visitor figures were severely reduced due to people not wanting to travel after 9-11.

He may have managed to steer the museum down a different route from the one it was taking – but it needs far more changes if it is to become an institution for the twenty-first century.

The Times

December 27, 2008
Briton of the Year: Neil MacGregor
‘Saint’ whose charm and enthusiasm had a curative effect on the British Museum
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Chief Art Critic

Saint Neil is his nickname. And we are blessed to have him. The British Museum’s director, Neil MacGregor, is far more than just the highly successful administrator of an iconic national establishment. He is a committed idealist who, in a world in which culture is increasingly presented as the acceptable face of politics, has pioneered a broader, more open, more peaceable way forward.

This year we almost lost him. He was being courted to replace Philippe de Montebello as the head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
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