Friday, March 5, 2010
Universal access to the Parthenon sculptures
British scholarship has had a long association with the publication of the sculptures from the Athenian acropolis. Humfry Payne and Gerard Mackworth-Young [both directors of the British School at Athens] collaborated on the beautifully photographed Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis (1936).
The Aegeanet list has been reminded by Professor Olga Palagia (The University of Athens) that photography in the New Acropolis Museum is now forbidden. When this new museum opened in June 2009 photography was permitted. (See some excellent pictures here.)
The banning of photography on such a well documented collection could send out an unfortunate signal. It will send out a message of encouragement for those who speak about cultural retentionism. If the Parthenon marbles were returned from London to Athens, would access to them be severely restricted? Would members of the public or interested academics find it easier to study the sculptures in London or in Athens?
Is it time for those responsible for this new policy to revise it?
© David Gill, 2010