November 12, 2006

Swede returns marble to Acropolis

Posted at 1:37 pm in Acropolis, Similar cases

More articles from various sources on Birgit Wiger-Angner’s handover of the fragment of the Erechtheion to Greece.

BBC News

Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 22:50 GMT
Swede gives back Acropolis marble
By Malcolm Brabant
BBC News, Athens

A retired Swedish gym teacher is the toast of Greece after returning a piece of sculpted marble taken from the Acropolis more than a century ago.

Birgit Wiger-Angner’s family held the marble for 110 years, but she decided to return it to Athens after hearing about Greece’s Elgin marbles campaign.

The small fragment comes from the Acropolis’s Erechtheion temple.

The move has boosted the international campaign to persuade the British Museum to return the Elgin marbles to Athens.

London’s reluctance

It is only a small decorative piece of marble but it is highly symbolic.

The fragment comes from the frieze of the Erechtheion, one of the ancient buildings on top of the rock called the Acropolis.

Surrounded by the original Parthenon marbles in the Acropolis Museum, Mrs Wiger-Angner called on the British Museum in London to restore to Greece the missing sculptures from this priceless collection.

“I think that all people in the British Museum should also bring back all the originals. They can make copies belonging to themselves,” she said.

This is the second piece of the Acropolis jigsaw to be returned in the past two months.

In September, Heidelberg University handed back a marble heel from the Acropolis’ Parthenon.

Campaigners argue that tourists would much rather see the marbles in the original location than in London.

“I think it is really just a moral obligation to add and share in the reunification of the Parthenon marbles which is a world monument,” said Eleni Korka, director of classical antiquities at the Greek ministry of culture.

But the British Museum is resisting growing international pressure to return the sculptures prised from the ancient Greek temple by Lord Elgin.

It insists that the sculptures were legally obtained from the authority governing Greece when Lord Elgin supposedly saved the sculpted tablets for Queen Victoria and a grateful nation.

It does not seem troubled by the fact that the nationality of that authority was Turkish, because until the mid-19th Century, Greece was occupied by the Ottoman empire.

New York Times

Arts, Briefly
Published: November 13, 2006


Teacher Returns Acropolis Sculpture

A retired Swedish gym teacher has given impetus to the campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles by restoring to Greece a piece of sculptured marble from the Acropolis that has been in her family for 110 years, the BBC reported. Standing amid original Parthenon marbles in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the former teacher, Birgit Wiger-Angner, called on the British Museum in London to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. “They can make copies belonging to themselves,” she said. The fragment she returned came from the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis and was the second to be returned to Greece in recent months. In September, Heidelberg University gave back a marble heel from the Parthenon. The British Museum insists that its sculptures were legally obtained by Lord Elgin from the Turkish authority that then governed Greece, but campaigners for restoration to Greece argue that tourists would rather see the sculptures there than in London. Eleni Korka, director of classical antiquities at the Greek ministry of culture, said, “I think it is really just a moral obligation to add and share in the reunification of the Parthenon marbles, which is a world monument.”

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Saturday November 11, 2006 – Archive
Birgit Wiger-Angner…
Aris Messinis/AFP

Retired gymnastics teacher Birgit Wiger-Angner, a Swede, is pictured in Athens yesterday looking at a sculpted marble fragment from the Acropolis that she donated to Greece. Wiger-Angner, 89, inherited the fragment from the Erechtheion Temple from her great uncle, who found the 2,400-year-old fragment during a visit to Athens more than 100 years ago. ‘I really hope this will be a signal especially to the British Museum, which has so many things from ancient Greece, to give [the artifacts] back,’ she said. The fragment will be displayed at the new Acropolis museum, due to open next year.

Brunei Times

Centuries-old temple fragment returned to Greece

A 2,500-YEAR-OLD marble, decorative fragment from a temple on the Acropolis in Athens was returned to Greece by a Swedish woman whose family had possessed it for over a century, officials said.

Measuring 20 centimetres wide and eight centimetres high, the fragment comes from the Erectheion temple, built in the 5th century BC and famous for its woman-shaped pillars, the Caryatids.

Part of the temple’s entablature, or upper roof section, the segment had been taken to Sweden by a naval officer, Henning Lund, in 1895 and was used as a decoration.

In 2005, Lund’s niece Birgit Wiger-Angner turned it over to Stockholm’s Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, requesting that it be returned to Athens, after reading an article about Greece’s desire to recover friezes from the Parthenon, the main temple on the Acropolis.

“I really hope this gesture will be a signal to many people in Europe… and especially the British Museum, who (has) so many things from the Acropolis, to give them back to the Greek people,” the 89-year-old woman said on Friday.

The Parthenon friezes were taken by Britain’s Lord Elgin in the 19th century and kept at the British Museum in London.

Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Friday said Wiger-Angner’s gesture “sends a message” to all foreign museum institutions holding parts of the Parthenon.

The British Museum continues to hold three entablature segments similar to the one returned by the Swedish woman, Voulgarakis said.

In keeping the fragment, Wiger-Angner’s family helped guard it from the effects of pollution.

Paint that once adorned the temple has disappeared due to the twin ravages of time and pollution, but some traces of paint remain on the piece, Suzanne Unge-Soerling, assistant head of the museum in Stockholm, said earlier this week. The piece will be featured in a new Acropolis museum currently under construction in Athens.AFP

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