Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keeping the marbles will now be terrible PR for Britain

Rowan Moore, the architecture critic for London's Evening Standard, has written a piece on his visit to the New Acropolis Museum in Athens ("Now let's return the Elgin Marbles", June 24, 2009). He is not totally enthusiastic about the new building:
You enter, under a vast, clumsy portico, an elephantine proboscis propped on three thumping columns. Throughout the building, architecture gets in the way of the exhibits. There are too many fat columns, and thick joints between panels, and holes cut in walls and ceiling for purposes of acoustics or lighting. The serene sculptures are interrupted with too much visual noise.
He also objects to the "pointless vandalism" of demolishing the Art Deco buildings that stand between the museum and the archaeological zone.

But the building has persuaded him of one thing:
Standing there on Sunday, as the first members of the public flooded in, and armed with all the arguments of a London patriot, I felt my objections melting away. It is partly that the Parthenon sculptures form a single work of art, which has been arbitrarily dismembered. This work can never be completely restored but there is still much to be gained from having as much as possible in one place. Like a shattered figure, it is good to reconnect the head to the neck to the torso, even if the feet and hands are permanently lost. To be more mundane, keeping the marbles will now be terrible PR for Britain. Each person who visits the new museum will see the same story: here is a great family of sculptures kept apart by the grouchy Brits, still exercising their imperial rights of loot and pillage. Most of all, the Greeks have shown, by building the museum, how much the marbles mean to them.

1 comment:

DR.KWAME OPOKU said...

We can support wholeheartedly the recommendation to return the Parthenon Marbles but given the history of the relations between Greece and the United Kingdom on this matter, I believe the return should be unconditional.

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