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"Enabling the whole world to see, study and enjoy the sculptures of the Parthenon"

The Duveen Gallery © David Gill
Sir Richard Lambert has responded to the request by the Greek Government to mediate on the Parthenon sculptures [26 March 2015, letter]. The key message from the Trustees is this: "After full and careful consideration, we have decided respectfully to decline this request".

The position of the Encyclopedic Museum is presented: "Museums holding Greek works, whether in Greece, the UK or elsewhere in the world, are naturally united in a shared endeavour to show the importance of the legacy of ancient Greece. The British Museum is committed to playing its full part in sharing the value of that legacy for all humanity".

Visitor figures are pulled out: More than 6 million visitors a year visit the British Museum, and thereby the Parthenon Sculptures, free of charge. 

Lambert concludes his letter: "In conclusion, therefore, we would invite our colleagues in Greek museums to continue to work with us and to explore new ways of enabling the whole world to see, study and enjoy the sculptures of the Parthenon". He could have added "... in London, not Athens".

Yet the statement misses the key point. The architectural and visual context for these wonderful fifth century sculptures is in Athens, under Greek light.

I recorded my thoughts on this topic back in 2009.

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Comments

DR.KWAME OPOKU said…
How long will the British Museum claim to be holding the Parthenon Marbles on behalf of humanity or in order to enable the whole world to appreciate the legacy of Greece? The British people have overwhelmingly and consistently voted that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens, the Greeks have also asked for the return of the sculptures. The peoples represented in the UNITED nations and UNESCO have consistently demanded the return of these sculptures to Athens. Who then does the British Museum represent or hope to help in appreciating the sculptures?
Can one act on behalf of peoples who have clearly stated they do not want such help? What humanity does the venerable museum have in mind that excludes the British people ,the Greeks and those of the United Nations? There is something basically wrong with the claim of the British Museum
DR.KWAME OPOKU said…
How long will the British Museum claim to be holding the Parthenon Marbles on behalf of humanity or in order to enable the whole world to appreciate the legacy of Greece? The British people have overwhelmingly and consistently voted that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens, the Greeks have for decades asked for the return of their sculptures. The peoples represented in the United Nations and UNESCO have consistently demanded the return of these sculptures to Athens. Who then does the British Museum represent or hope to help in appreciating the sculptures?
Can one act on behalf of peoples who have clearly stated they do not want such help? What kind of humanity does the venerable museum have in mind that excludes the British people, the Greeks and those of the United Nations? There is something basically wrong with the claim of the British Museum.

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