More MPs and colleagues expressed support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece as protesters celebrated in London on 13 March.Anniversary of the opening of the Athens Museum is where they think they belong.
Calls to reunite antiquities removed from the Acropolis in controversial circumstances by Lord Elgin more than 200 years ago – and believed to be vital to the nation’s cultural memory – were raised on Saturday, with six British lawmakers telling Greek daily Ta Nea that compensation was just the right thing. The British Museum acquired the sculptures from the diplomat in 1816.
“There could be no better moment than collecting the Parthenon marbles in their Athenian home,” said Shami Chakrabarti, a fellow Labour.
“Instead of desperate refugees, let’s pack international treasures onto carefully chartered planes,” she added, referring to the conservative government’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Scottish National Party MP Dave Duggan described the continued replacement of classical sculpture as a clear case of the “victorious hand” of British exceptionalism.
“I think the British Museum should do the right thing and bring them back to their rightful homes in Greece. If you don’t, you are insulting Greece and its people,” he told the newspaper.
Co-worker Lord Dobbs addressed concerns that repatriation of artworks might open the door to repatriation of other pieces to their countries of origin and insisted that this be the case. The Parthenon sculptures from the 5th century BC were a special case.
“We need to explain why the return of the marbles is exceptional and not a precedent for demanding the return of hundreds of artworks around the world,” he said. “I think the marbles should be one entity and not in different countries, they were originally stolen from Greece, but above all they represent something particularly important for Greece.”
The British Museum owns more than 100,000 priceless Greek artifacts, although just over six percent of the collection is on display.
Athena insisted that, apart from ownership, she had no claim to any item other than sculptures. About half of the decorative artwork that once adorned the Parthenon is on display in London. Gypsum molds are among the pieces that activists claim have been sawn and hacked from the Golden Age monument, along with the originals surviving in the Acropolis Museum.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has revived the antiquities recovery campaign, speaking increasingly of the artistic, cultural and aesthetic need to regroup “the symbolic monuments that are inseparable from the identity of the nation” so that they can be viewed in their entirety as a single unit.
With Greece putting the issue at the top of its cultural agenda, the center-right leader made the “stolen” sculptures a major talking point in his first Downing Street talks with Boris Johnson last November.
For decades, the British Museum argued that the Greeks did not have a decent enough place to house the artifacts that were exposed to pollution and acid rain before they were removed from the monument. When a magnificent, state-of-the-art museum was built at the foot of the Acropolis, he changed course, saying that while in Athens the sculptures could be appreciated against the background of Athenian history, in London they could be viewed in the context of world history.
“The curators firmly believe that there is a positive and public benefit in dividing the sculptures between two major museums, each telling an integrated but different story,” the museum notes on its website.
This view is not shared by most Britons, who voted in favor of returning the sculptures to Greece in successive polls.
On Wednesday, British Museum President George Osborne suggested there was a “deal to be struck” that could resolve the longstanding cultural rift, but added: “I think a deal has to be struck where we can be able to tell stories in Athens and in London.”
Activists calling for the marble globes to be returned on Saturday said the opening of a gallery under the Acropolis in 2009, as research showed visitors were spending “significantly more time” enjoying the treasures, gave the British Museum every excuse denied to keeping the most divisive. Work in antiquity. With the decision to reunite the monuments, the foundation could demonstrate ethical leadership “in keeping with the times,” said Paul Cartledge, professor emeritus of Greek culture at the University of Cambridge.
“The last vestiges of an apology for not returning the sculptures 13 years ago have evaporated,” said Dame Janet Susman, chair of the Parthenon Sculptures Reunification Committee in the UK.