Showing 2 results for the tag: Simon Jenkins.

November 6, 2009

Why you don’t have to like the New Acropolis Museum to support the return of the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 7:09 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Anthony Snodgrass – Chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles responds to Simon Jenkins’s earlier article about the New Acropolis Museum.

The Guardian

New home for the Parthenon marbles
The Guardian, Tuesday 27 October 2009

I know that Simon Jenkins is fundamentally on the same side as I am, and I’m sure it wasn’t he who chose to put that offensive phrase in his headline (A banana republic police HQ maybe, but not a home for the Elgin marbles, 23 October). But his piece did contain more than its fair share of anti-Greek prejudice. The Greeks were “foolish” to turn down the offer of a loan of the Elgin marbles this summer (a heavily conditional offer, confined to a few pieces, never officially proposed and withdrawn as soon as mooted). They have consigned the excavated ancient site under the new museum to a “surreal dungeon” (unfair: it is to be open to visitors). And Jenkins cannot have it both ways: if the Greeks previously “spoiled their case” for restitution of the marbles by shortcomings in conservation, then he should not be complaining now that the restoration works on the Acropolis are so painstaking.

Anyway, the Greeks have now “gone to the other extreme” with a building that “screams the supremacy of Big Modernism” and looks like “the police headquarters of a banana republic”: Bernard Tschumi’s New Acropolis museum in Athens, which is the real target here. Comment is free, and a whole series of other expert architectural critics have commended Tschumi’s building for exactly the opposite quality – “handsome”, “unassuming”, “minimalist”, “unpretentious” – to what Jenkins detects. Simon Jenkins prefers the interior to the exterior: fair enough, so do many of us. But there was no call to package his criticism in this offensive wrapping paper.

Anthony Snodgrass
Chair, British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

November 5, 2009

Is the look of the New Acropolis Museum a problem?

Posted at 7:23 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

There have been many positive reviews of the New Acropolis Museum since its opening last June. As with any piece of art (or architecture) it is not to everyone’s taste. Simon Jenkins who has in the past spoken out in support of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures clearly falls into the latter camp. Unfortunately he is allowing his dislike of the building’s style to seemingly weaken his own case for return – something which is unfortunate, as generally people’s views on reunification are transformed in a different way when they are shown around the building.

The Guardian

Simon Jenkins
A banana republic police HQ maybe, but not a home for the Elgin marbles
I am a restitutionist – but the new museum fails to clinch the case. It is not so much an argument as a punch in the face
Thursday 22 October 2009 22.00 BST

In 1812 Lord Elgin loaded the last of his Acropolis sculptures on to ships in Piraeus and set sail for England. Four years later and bankrupt, he sold them to the British Museum. This summer the Greeks, eager for their return, staged what they hoped would be a definitive retort by opening a £110m museum to house the marbles against the slopes of the same Acropolis. It is the most costly poison-pen letter in the history of cultural exchange.

Any lawyer can prove anything, and I happen to agree with those who regard the Elgin marbles as legally Britain’s. But in any meaningful sense, they “belong” in Athens. As 56 of the surviving 94 panels of the Panathenaic procession, they should rejoin the 36 in the new museum. Precedent is not an issue, being the last refuge of reactionaries and those who have lost an argument. The Elgin marbles are, to put it mildly, a special case.
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