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Why should the Greeks build a statue of Lord Elgin in Athens?

Richard Dorment’s article in the Daily Telegraph [1] unsurprisingly provoked many angry responses on the newspaper’s comments page. Not least, were the claims that the sculptures have been, & would continue to be, better displayed & looked after in the British Museum than in the New Acropolis Museum.

London Daily News [2]

01 July, 2009 12:03 (GMT +01:00)
“Greeks should build a statue to Lord Elgin in Athens”, Telegraph editorial
International News

In what is becoming an increasingly protracted debate, the issue of the reunification of the stolen marbles of the Parthenon took a new dynamic with a highly provocative editorial by Richard Dorment the arts editor of the Daily Telegraph calling for the Greeks to “erect a statue of Lord Elgin near the Parthenon to express their nation’s gratitude to him for saving the marbles”.

Ironically an extensive report published in 1999 by world archeological experts found that the “Elgin marbles” morphology had suffered as a result of the “misguided efforts to make them whiter than white”. The report went onto to say :

“Original carvers’ toolmarks had been removed and scratch marks had been left by the unskilled labourers who had used copper chisels and wire brushes to clean the marbles in the 1930s.”

In the same article Dorment said that “that if anyone thinks the building (Acropolis museum) is ever going to house anything other than the plaster casts that are on display there now, they are hopelessly out of touch with reality. There is virtually no chance that the director of the British Museum now or in the future will comply with this outlandish demand”.

The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in a letter to the British Museum said:

“The new Acropolis Museum has been designed specifically to allow for the proper exhibition of all of the surviving two and a half thousand- year – old sculptures of the Parthenon in their original configuration. This cannot be done in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum, which is too small even for the Elgin collection to be correctly exhibited.”

The comments by Dorment underline the illogical and anachronistic arguments held by the supporters of the “Elgin marbles” which frankly underline a bygone era of British imperialism which is now past memory. So that London is not humiliated publicly in 2012 when the Greeks are threatening to not allow the Olympic flame to be sent to London, a gesture by the British Museum’s trustees should be forthcoming to allow Greece to exhibit the Parthenon sculptures in Athens.

In a poll conducted by the London Daily News 78.59% (2941) agreed that the British Government return the”Elgin Marbles” back to Greece.