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Could the return of the Elgin Marbles aid Scottish Museums?

An exchange of artefacts in return for the Restitution of the Elgin Marbles could be beneficial beyond the context of the British Museum.

The Scotsman [1]

Saturday, 28th February 2004
Elgin Marbles plan to aid museums

SCOTTISH museums could benefit from a plan to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece, it has been claimed.

The Scottish launch of the Marbles Reunited campaign is being held in Inverness tonight, with the aim of persuading the government and the British Museum in London to agree to release the marbles on long-term loan in time for the Olympic Games in Athens.

The campaign brings together more than 100 organisations, MPs, academics and public figures. Among those who back the move are Bill Clinton, the former US president, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and a number of celebrities.

It proposes that Britain and Greece form an agreement which would see the sections of the Marbles currently in London reunited with those in Greece for display in the New Museum of the Acropolis in Athens.

The London sections could remain in the ownership of the British Museum but be loaned to Greece, which in turn would loan other priceless Greek antiquities to museums throughout the UK.

The results of an opinion poll of 1,000 people, published last month by Marbles Reunited, showed that 81 per cent backed the proposals with only 13 per cent opposed.

Prof Anthony Snodgrass, a spokesman for the Marbles Reunited campaign, said: “We have been encouraged by the strong support for our campaign in Scotland, and are delighted to be setting out such a wonderful cultural opportunity for the country.”

The professor of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge, added: “The Greeks have stated they will reciprocate a loan of the Marbles housed in the British Museum to Athens with return loans of priceless artefacts never before seen in the UK. These will be made available to museums around the UK.

“Clearly, Scottish museums and galleries will be at the top of the list of institutions to benefit from such exhibits.”

The group believes that the Parthenon sculptures are a unique work of art that makes sense only as a whole, viewed within sight of the Parthenon itself.

The Marbles have been at the centre of a row between Britain and Greece since hundreds of the sculptures were acquired by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, between 1801 and 1810.