Showing results 1 - 12 of 53 for the tag: The Times.

November 7, 2014

British Museum boss: Parthenon Marbles acquisition was legal

Posted at 2:47 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

No one expects the British Museum to just suddenly acquiesse on the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures. Even by their own standards though, some of what is in the latest interview with their Director, Neil MacGregor, is pushing the bounds of credibility.

Now – to the best of my knowledge, the only firman (or permit) that Elgin ever managed to show to anyone (in Italian translation) stated that he had permission to make measure, sketch & make casts of the sculptures and buildings on the site. It also stated that they could dig up inscribed blocks that might have been preserved in the rubble. Some of the Parthenon Sculptures may fall into this category, but the vast majority were sawn from the building by Elgin. The firman is fairly specific in its wording regarding taking casts, so it seems that it would be an odd omission to describe other things in such detail, but not to mention that he was also allowed to remove large chunks of the ancient monument & saw it apart to remove the sculptures from it. On this basis alone, I think it would be safe to say that the legality of the removal is called into question.

Neil MacGregor however seems to see things a different way – and he believes that most other people do too. He asks himself “Was the acquisition legal?” and then immediately responds “I think everybody would have to agree that it was.” Hearing things such ass this only helps to convince me that a major change of tactics is needed if the sculptures are to return to Greece any time soon. When the institution that holds them is so emphatically certain that they are right, it is hard to start any sort of serious negotiations.

MacGregor falls on a peculiar fallacy, that because it took a long time to remove the sculptures (this is true & well documented), that therefore lots of people must have seen him do it & therefore as he was not stopped, what was doing must have been legal. If a criminal used this as a defence today, we wouldn’t use it as evidence of the legality of their actions though – merely that they were adept at avoiding getting caught.

It is clear from his statements that the British Museum has no fear of the UNESCO mediation request – they believe that UNESCO should deal only with governments, so it does not apply to them. The British Government will of course take the line that it is not the decision for the government can make, and note that the responsibility falls to the Trustees of the British Museum. This is a true assessment of things – but if the government had a will to do something, I’m sure they would not be adverse to leaning on the Trustees & trying to get them to deal with the issue.

MacGregor also highlights another major stumbling block (although I’m sure that he does not see it this way), that Greece must acknowledge that the British Museum is the legal owner of the sculptures, before any negotiations can begin. As a large part of Greece’s claim rests on the fact that the marbles were not legally acquired, then to state that they were before any negotiations would be a disaster. Why would they want to relinquish a big chunk of their arguments before they even start? If the same thing happened in trials over the ownership of Nazi loot, there would be a public outcry.

Throwing one final stone over his parapet, MacGregor shows that the museum is entirely remorseless on the issue (or perhaps entirely misunderstands the issue), stating that even if Elgin was to do the same now, it would still be legal by the standards of the museum. Using as an example (an entirely different situation of) archaeological digs in Sudan, where they have been invited to excavate by the authorities. To understand just how spurious this example is, note that:
1. The government of Sudan is not seen by Britain to be an occupying power.
2. The permits & what they allow them to do / not do, are presumably carefully documented, checked by various lawyers & certified copies filed away somewhere securely.
3. The terms of the permits are presumably adhered to, without massive ad-hoc undocumented changes to the mission.

I’m sure if I looked into it in more detail, many more details would show just what a ridiculous comparison is being made here.

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor

From:
The Times

Neil MacGregor: ‘There is no possibility of putting the Elgin Marbles back’
Richard Morrison
Published at 12:01AM, November 7 2014

The British Museum director explains why the Parthenon Sculptures will not be returned to Greece during his tenure

If he’s a man under pressure he seems blithely unaware of it. At precisely 8.58am last Tuesday morning a dapper 68-year-old docks his Boris bike and walks through the great gates of his institution, which are still closed to the public. “Morning, Neil,” says the security guard. “Gentleman from The Times waiting to see you.” The director of the British Museum has arrived for work.
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March 30, 2012

Professional photography charges at Greek archaeological sites cut

Posted at 1:01 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

More coverage of the decision by Greece to reduce the costs for filming permits at the country’s ancient sites.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Greece cuts filming costs at Acropolis
Thursday, January 19, 2012
By Natalie Weeks

The Acropolis, Greece’s star attraction for 2,500 years, may be preparing for a bigger role.

The Greek government lowered the permit costs this month for using archaeological sites and museums for film crews to 1,600 euros ($2,039) a day from as much as 4,000 euros in a 2005 pricelist, and for professional photographers to 200 euros from 300 euros, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Historical spots include the Acropolis, which houses the Parthenon, and Delphi, home of the ancient oracle.
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January 11, 2011

Greek Ministry of Culture denies change in position on Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Further coverage of the Greek government’s response to the article in The Times that claimed that they were no longer claiming ownership of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum.

From:
Greek Reporter

Ministry denies reviewing position on Parthenon artifacts
Posted on 07 December 2010 by Apostolos Papapostolou

The Culture Ministry yesterday rebuffed a report in the Times newspaper suggesting that Minister Pavlos Geroulanos had offered to forgo its claims to the Parthenon Marbles, which are on display at the British Museum, in return for a long-term loan of the artifacts. Sources at the ministry told Skai that the government has not changed its position regarding its demand for the return of the Marbles. The museum said it had not been informed of any official proposal by the Greek government adding that Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos never referred to the issue of the marbles’ ownership in his meeting with a reporter of the British newspaper “The Times.”

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January 10, 2011

Greece maintains that their demand is for permanent return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 2:10 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Despite earlier reports to the contrary suggesting Greek position on the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles might have changed, statements since then by the Greek Culture Ministry state that this is not the cases & that the report in The Times misrepresents their position.

From:
Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Greece remains firm in demand for permanent return of marbles
Dec 6, 2010, 20:55 GMT
DPA

Athens – Greece remained steadfast Monday in its demand for the permanent return of the Parthenon Marbles to the new museum in Athens, denying newspaper reports that said it would forgo its claim for a long-term loan of the artefacts.

In a recent report, The Times newspaper said: ‘Greece was trying to break decades of stalemate with Britain over the Elgin Marbles by dropping its long-standing claim to ownership of the sculptures in return for the British Musuem sending the Acropolis artefacts back to Athens on a long-term loan.’
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January 6, 2011

Greece states that it will drop ownership claims on Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:52 pm in Elgin Marbles

In an interview with The Times, Greece’s Culture Minister, Pavlos Geroulanos, has indicated that he may be willing to set aside the issue of ownership, in order to facilitate serious talks with the British Museum about the reunification of the Elgin Marbles.

Later reports from Greece have however indicated that this attribution was made in error & was not what was discussed in the interview.

From:
The Times

Greece offers to drop claim to Elgin Marbles
Michael Binyon Athens Last updated December 6 2010 12:01 AM

Greece is trying to break decades of stalemate with Britain over the Elgin Marbles by dropping its long-standing claim to ownership of the sculptures in return for the British Museum sending the Acropolis artefacts back to Athens on a long-term loan.

In return, Greece will offer the British Museum a selection of its best classical art, changing the exhibition every few years to give London one of the richest permanent displays in Western Europe of sculpture, carvings and art from ancient Greece.
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October 18, 2010

The problems of photography in the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 8:59 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

In the old Acropolis Museum located actually on the Acropolis itself, I never had any problems taking photographs. Within the New Acropolis Museum however, whilst I took many pictures while the building was under construction, I’ve had great difficulty in taking any pictures within the building since the exhibits were in place. Even at the opening in 2009, although people (only a very limited number of invited guests) were allowed to take photos in the lower levels of the building, numerous staff were making sure that no one took photos inside the Parthenon Gallery.

Whilst I can understand that museums make money from selling reproduction rights to items in their collections, I can not see how stopping all photography (when the general tradition in Greece is for museums to allow it) is a move that benefits anyone. In many cases, photographs would have acted as an advert for the museum. The building has already been published in numerous newspapers & magazines, so there is now no secret behind the appearance of the interior (which could have been argued as a reason prior to its opening).

From:
The Times Blogs

August 03, 2010
How much does a picture of the Parthenon cost?

How can we keep the Greek economy afloat? Well, one answer is by asking for permission to reproduce pictures from Greek museums.

Just recently I produced a new edition of my Parthenon book, brought up to date with a new chapter on the new Acropolis Museum (plus all the to-ing and fro-ing about the Elgin Marbles in the years since the first edition came out).
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August 12, 2010

Is London a safer location for the Parthenon Marbles?

Posted at 1:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Matthew Parris in The Times has (although I am still hoping the remarks were made tongue in cheek) sadly descended to the level of many other commentators in the past, who claim that London is a far safer location for the display of the Parthenon Marbles. Notwithstanding any other issues associated with this argument, the fact remains that even the supposedly safe places can become unsafe – meaning that there is no form of guarantee that London is any safer than Athens for the display of artefacts. This fact is evidence by such things as the huge number of artworks destroyed in the collapse of New York’s World Trade Center in 2001.

If the argument is taken to its logical conclusion, then surely all artefacts should be located in secure underground vaults – perhaps only viewable by video cameras. If this was the case though, it should be determined by some sort of international body, by the voluntary consent of the parties concerned, not post-rationalised bay a single party without any sort of real consent from the original owners.

From:
The Times

May 20, 2010
Never mind the oil slick, just watch our carpet
BP should take a wider view when it comes to health and safety
Matthew Parris

[…]

Losing their Marbles

Speaking of mayhem, I see a silver lining to the cloud of rioting and destruction in Athens. I’ve always felt that there was merit in the argument that, as the Elgin Marbles were part of the Parthenon, they should be reunited with it, but I’m equally impressed with the argument that they were brought to Britain for safekeeping, and are ours now. It is at last clear how these two may be reconciled. Bring the Parthenon to London, too, for safekeeping.

[…]

June 12, 2010

Could London be an example for cultural restitution?

Posted at 10:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

A conference in London aims to represent London as a beacon of enlightenment in the world of restitution of cultural property. Many countries will be unconvinced by this argument however.

From:
The Times

May 4, 2010
London – a beacon of cultural resistution?

Plenty of people in Greece, Egypt, and Scotland might disagree but London, home of the Elgin marbles, the Rosetta Stone and the Lewis Chessmen, will today present itself as a beacon of enlightenment on the thorny subject of cultural restitution.

Delegates ranging from a lawyer with the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest to the Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures and the Director General of ICCROM (the International Organisation for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage) in Rome are attending a conference at the National Gallery this afternoon billed as Restitution – Where Now?
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May 31, 2010

Iran wants $300,000 compensation from the British Museum

Posted at 9:29 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As a continuation of their long running dispute over the delayed loan of the Cyrus Cylinder, Iran is now requesting monetary compensation because of the delay.

From:
Reuters

TEHRAN
Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:35am EDT
Iran wants $300,000 in British Museum antiquity row

(Reuters) – Iran wants $300,000 in compensation from the British Museum over its failure to lend the Islamic Republic an ancient Persian treasure, state television reported.

The dispute over the so-called Cyrus Cylinder, named after the Persian ruler’s 6th century BC conquest of Babylon, is a further sign of deteriorating relations between Tehran and London.
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May 13, 2010

When cultural nationalism isn’t cultural nationalism

Posted at 12:58 pm in Similar cases

This (& many other articles) talk about the importance of the fight to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in Britain. When other countries ask for the return of their artefacts for similar reasons though, this is regularly described in a derogatory way with terms such as cultural nationalism.

From:
The Times

March 14, 2010
The long battle for the Staffordshire treasure hoard
For 1,400 years, a stash of Anglo-Saxon artefacts remained buried — until it was found last year by a man with a metal detector. It throws fascinating new light on clashes in the Dark Ages, but now we must win the fight to keep this precious hoard in Britain

It’s a misty dawn in Middle England, some time in the 7th century. A small band of armed men struggle up a wooded hill. At the summit they pause. While one keeps watch, the others tip their loot on to the ground. They divide up the jewels and coins, then they turn to the rest of the booty: swords, crosses, saddle fittings, which are mostly gold and exquisitely made. They hammer at them with stones and the hilts of their knives, they rip the pommels from the swords and stuff the blades into their jerkins, smash the helmets and bend the arms of the crosses until they look like nothing more than twisted pieces of metal. They stuff the small gold and bejewelled fragments into leather pouches, grub out a hole in the earth, and bury their cache. Then they disappear over the hill as swiftly as they came.
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February 24, 2010

Lewis Chessmen… or Norwegian Chessmen?

Posted at 10:01 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Scottish MP Angus MacNeil is annoyed about the British Museum’s depiction of the Lewis Chessmen as Norwegian with no mention of the fact that they were found in Scotland before ending up in the British Museum.

From:
The Times

February 24, 2010
MPs angered by ‘Norwegian’ Chessmen

The British Museum has been accused of “airbrushing” history after a poster campaign claimed the world famous Lewis Chessmen were from Norway, and failed to mention any connection to Scotland at all.

Angus MacNeil, the Nationalist MP for the Western Isles, wants the posters removed or the reference to Norway replaced by Lewis. Mr MacNeil, who has raised the issue at Westminster, described the promotional campaign as a “total cheek”.
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February 17, 2010

Iran breaks ties with the British Museum over Cyrus Cylinder

Posted at 1:59 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The dispute between Iran & the British Museum over the Cyrus Cylinder continues to drag on. Iran is taking further steps to cut ties with the British Museum, in the hope that this will force an earlier resolution to the situation.

From:
Museums Association

Iran cuts ties with British Museum
Gareth Harris
08/02/2010

Hamid Baghaei, head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO), has cut ties with the British Museum (BM) after it delayed the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder. The sixth-century artefact was due to go on display at the Iran National Museum in Tehran last month.

The decision was announced during a press conference on Saturday according to the Tehran Times. But a spokeswoman for the British Museum said that the decision came as a “great surprise”, and added that the museum had finally agreed to loan the object to Iran only last week.
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