Showing results 13 - 24 of 30 for the month of April, 2008.

April 17, 2008

Should formal requests be made before restitution cases can be considered?

Posted at 1:11 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The British Museum & British government often argue over the semantics of the lack of formal restitution requests as a reason for avoiding dealing with the Elgin Marbles issue. In reality though, such procrastination & stalling will eventually be overcome, proving that these arguments are delaying tactics rather than valid reasons.


Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku
Sunday, 13 April 2008

“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.”
Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause. (1)

In a recent report on the Benin exhibition in Berlin, Benin – 600 Years of Royal Arts in Nigeria, an official of the Ethnology Museum Berlin, presumably, the Director of the African Section of the Museum, is reported to have stated that there has been no formal request for restitution from the Benin/Nigerian authorities and therefore the question of restitution did not arise as far as the Ethnology Museum of Berlin was concerned. (2) A reporter who was at the opening of the exhibition has stated that the Nigerian Minister of Culture, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode announced plans of his government to recover the stolen bronzes in “a very diplomatic and civilised way”; but that his government was not primarily concerned with restitution but interested first of all in international scientific co-operation to elaborate an inventory of all the pieces which had been once in the palace in Benin. (3)
Irrespective of what exactly the Nigerian Minister of Culture said at the opening of the Benin exhibition, we have heard this argument before from Austrians, Germans and others with respect to stolen cultural objects in their museums that there has been no formal/official demand and so the question does not arise for them. We would like to comment briefly on what may appear, at first sight, to be a reasonable position from the point of view of a holder of stolen or found property. Certainly it is a useful tactic if an owner does not bother to reclaim lost/stolen property for the holder to remain passive.
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April 15, 2008

Copyright in stolen artefacts

Posted at 11:17 am in British Museum, Similar cases

European Museums have in many cases taken artefacts from their original owners / creators circumstance of dubious legality. On top of this though, they now proceed to profit from these earlier acquisitions, licensing the use of their imagery to others & collecting in money from this, none of which is passed on to the original owners. A new documentary film will highlight some of these problems to a wider audience.

Modern Ghana

By Dr. Kwame Opoku
Mon, 14 Apr 2008
Feature Article

We have in previous articles raised the issue of copyright in stolen African cultural objects that are now in European and American museums and the profit the museums are making by the granting of permission to use images of these objects or to film them. None of these profits goes to the artists who made these objects or to their successors or communities of origin. These museums which argue that they are keeping the stolen objects on behalf of mankind and thereby make mankind accomplices in their deeds do not feel any obligation to share the profits with mankind. These trustees feel they have a right to keep the profits and benefits derived from the presence of the African objects in their museums. The article below, from African Path, reporting on a new documentary film to be released soon, Crown Fraud, throws some light on the very interesting practices of the British Museum in this regard. Even if one does not entirely accept the calculations in the article, it does enable us to understand the need to discuss this issue and to obtain some justice. Hopefully, we will soon have some explanations from the British Museum and the other European museums about their position. One would also encourage the communities concerned by this issue to let the museums know their demands and urge their governments to take some action.
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April 11, 2008

The British Museum still has to deal with old issues

Posted at 1:11 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

My response to the Evening Standard’s article on Neil MacGregor’s tenure at the British Museum was published in their letters page today.

Evening Standard (London)

Old Issue for the British Museum
Friday 11th April 2008

Fiona Maddock’s interview with Neil MacGregor highlights many great achievements that he has made during his tenure at the British Museum, but manages to skim over other critical issues.

Whilst most artefacts in the museum were acquired through legitimate means, the ownership of a significant minority of items is disputed. MacGregor talks about the functioning of a post colonial collection, making much of prominent ties forged with China, but such integration with other parties happens only when the museum has the upper hand & can dictate the terms.
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Neil MacGregor’s legacy at the British Museum

Posted at 1:05 pm in British Museum

Neil MacGregor has been responsible for many good things at the British Museum. Coverage of these aspects though often skims over other issues that are holding back the progress of the museum.

Evening Standard (London)

The man who has made this the UK’s top ticket
By Fiona Maddocks, Evening Standard 08.04.08

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum for the past six years, has never looked more eager as he bounds into his magnificent slate-blue office in Bloomsbury. Today he will announce two new glittering statistics of the kind that have characterised his reign since he took over in 2002.

First comes news of the record-breaking 850,619 visitors for China’s Terracotta Army exhibition, which closed on Sunday after a triumphant six-month run, making it the most successful show since the BM’s own Treasures of Tutankhamun in 1972 (at 1.7 million visitors, still unbeaten as the most successful exhibition in the UK but it ran for a year). This is more than double the 400,000 predicted. Queues formed round the block and opening hours had to be extended three times to meet demand.
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April 10, 2008

Progress of the Parthenon restoration

Posted at 12:41 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

The restoration project on the Parthenon is proceeding, with removal of more parts of the building for cleaning.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Thursday April 10, 2008
Parthenon restoration up a gear

The restoration of the pollution-ravaged friezes of the Parthenon is set to gather pace, with the removal of a further 17 metopes from the Athens landmark for cleaning, the Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) said yesterday.

Of these 17 metopes, 14 will be from the west side of the Parthenon which, experts say, is in a “lamentable state.” Another metope – depicting a Centauromachy – will be taken down from the south side and two more from the north side.
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Until Lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter

Posted at 12:34 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The British Museum & other institutions claim that they took artefacts to preserve them & that the artefacts were taken legitimately. Institutions who hold looted artefacts, in many cases hold the copyright on images of the artefact as well – deriving a source of revenue for themselves, whilst denying it from those who are arguably the rightful owners.

African Path

Africa: The Crown Affair
April 09, 2008 11:34 AM
By Melford Ita

A documentary film scheduled for release soon will raise key issues over Article 11 of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on cultural objects taken across borders. Melford Ita reports.

It is a cold winter morning in Germany but I am sitting in the warm comfort of a high-speed train, the Inter City Express (ICE) en-route to Brussels. It is a long trip, so I reach for my laptop and log on. An editorial alluding to Markets and Investments grappling with the interpretation of a copyright law with the British Museum draws my attention. It reads, Article 11 of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on cultural objects declares as illicit, “the export and transfer of ownership of cultural property under compulsion arising directly or indirectly from the occupation of a country by a foreign power.”
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April 9, 2008

Marbles Reunited campaign director wanted

Posted at 1:38 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The Marbles Reunited campaign is in the process of searching for a campaign director. This is an important full time role, with the potential to have a significant impact on the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

For more details of this job, please download the outline brief for it here.

Please pass this on to others who you feel might be interested in the role.

If you have further queries on it, please contact Suzannah Ritch at the details given in the specification or contact me directly using the contact link on menus to the right of this page.

Australian Prime Minister in trouble over Elgin Marbles joke

Posted at 9:35 am in Elgin Marbles, International Association

Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Prime Minister has been criticised by some groups over appearing to make light of the Elgin Marbles issue. It is not clear at the present, what his own personal views on the controversy are, although historically Australia has tended to support requests for reunification.

Herald Sun (Australia)

PM Kevin Rudd in hot water over Elgin Marbles joke
Gareth Trickey
April 08, 2008 10:15am

A JOKE told by Kevin Rudd that compared ownership of the Elgin / Parthenon Marbles to the Ashes urn has caused a stir among Australia’s Greek community.

Australia’s Greek Community leaders have questioned Mr Rudd’s comparison of the fight for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles with Australia’s desire to win back the Ashes cricket urn.
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Parthenon sculpture for sale online

Posted at 9:35 am in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

Apparently, some part of the Parthenon is for sale online. What part this is & how it was obtained remains unclear at this point in time. The one thing that is clear is that this would appear to be happening in complete disregard of various laws that are designed to prevent the unauthorised sale of ancient artefacts.

Balkan Travellers

Balkan Travellers
7 April 2008
A marble from the Parthenon in Athens is being sold on the Internet, Greek media reported.

The starting price in the bid is 50,000 US dollars, according to the Antena television station. As proof of the antique object’s authenticity, it was reported, a recording of its being stolen was offered.

The report added that while the marble’s seller is anonymous, there is information on his identity and Greek authorities were informed.
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April 7, 2008

Will the British Museum ever back down from its claims to legal ownership of the Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 1:11 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

To rotate the British Museum’s arguments (repeated below), is it possible to have meaningful negotiations on an issue when one party sets various pre-requisites that must be met before any discussions can be made. The British Museum on a regular basis assigns itself as the overseer of roles affecting other countries, to which others are not allowed any input or consultation.

Modern Ghana

By Dr. Kwame Opoku
Sun, 06 Apr 2008

For those who are hoping that the British Museum may reconsider its position on the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles and adopt a position closer to the views of the United Nations and UNESCO and thereby contribute towards an acceptable solution to this decades-long dispute on the Parthenon Marbles, the statement issued by the British Museum almost a year ago, on 21 April 21 2007, must serve as a warning that such a change is not on the horizon. The recent Athens Conference on the Return of Cultural Objects to their Countries of Origin has not elicited any new statement on the policy of a museum which claims to serve the whole world. We comment briefly on some aspects of the statement.

“The Trustees have for years been looking to see if there is any reasonable ground on which a way forward with Greek colleagues might be constructed. To date, this has sadly not proved possible. Among many problems has been that successive Greek government have publicly disputed the Trustees’ unquestionable legal ownership of the sculptures. This has made any meaningful discussions virtually impossible.”
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New Acropolis Museum will aid the return of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:56 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The imminent opening of the New Acropolis Museum will strengthen the argument for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.


Greece aims to regain Elgin Marbles with new museum
The Associated Press
April 6, 2008

A long-delayed new museum in Athens where Greece hopes to reunite its ancient Acropolis masterpieces with Britain’s Elgin Marbles will open in September, officials said.

Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said finishing the glass and concrete building was a “national challenge” and would boost Greece’s campaign to wrest the 5th century B.C. sculptures from the British Museum.
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April 5, 2008

A new deal for the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 4:14 pm in Elgin Marbles

The American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is organising a lecture at the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies in Washington.

American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures



Chairman of the British Committee for the
Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles

in a talk entitled:

The Parthenon Sculptures — A New Deal?
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