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Return of Elgin Marbles would “rip heart from museum”

Tory MPs have claimed in a recent debate that returning the Elgin Marbles would be like ripping the heart out of the British Museum. I wish they would explain how the removal of the marbles from the Parthenon does not count as a far worse act.

The Scotsman [1]

Mon 19 Apr 2004 5:21pm (UK)
Marbles Return ‘Would Rip Heart from Museum’
By Vivienne Morgan, Political Staff, PA News

Returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece would “rip the heart out of the British Museum” and must be resisted by ministers, Tories urged today.

Museums minister Estelle Morris said the historic dispute – a source of friction between Greece and Britain for more than 200 years, was not a matter for Government.

But she stressed the artefacts were well displayed at present and that the British Museum attracted millions of visitors each year.

A new initiative to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece, the Marbles Reunited campaign, wants the 2,500-year-old treasures returned “on loan” in time for the Olympic Games in Athens this summer.

The British Museum, home to the disputed marbles for the past 200 years, has said it has no intention of handing them over.

An ambitious new museum is under construction at the foot of the Acropolis to house the treasures.

Under the proposals, the British Museum would retain ownership of the marbles and responsibility for their conservation.

In return, the Greek Government has promised that other significant treasures would be brought over to Britain for an exhibition which would visit London and regional museums.

At question time, Labour’s Andrew Dismore (Hendon) said this offer would ease the British Museum’s financial problems and provide extra resources for regional museums.

“Isn’t it about time the Parthenon sculptures went back to their proper home in Athens,” he demanded to cries of “no” from Tories.

Ms Morris said it was a matter for the British Museum. “It should stay that way and it will stay that way,” she added.

“My understanding is the matter to which you referred never went in detail to the British Museum to enable them to reply.”