ANTICA GRECIA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA. "England Über Alles" - Parthenon marbles: British Museum to send more Elgin Marbles abroad despite Greek anger, THE TELEGRAPH, U.K., & ARTNET NEWS (06-09|12|2014).

ANTICA GRECIA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA. “England Über Alles” – Parthenon marbles: British Museum to send more Elgin Marbles abroad despite Greek anger, THE TELEGRAPH, U.K., & ARTNET NEWS (06-09|12|2014).


s.v., The Parthenon Gallery | THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM, ATHENS, GEECE [12|2014].

In the centre of the Parthenon Gallery on the 3rd floor, the visitor can observe a video presentation about the Parthenon and the sculptural decoration of the monument. In the same area are presented ancient marble inscriptions recording detailed cost records of the construction of the Parthenon and the statue of Athena Parthenos. As a result, visitors are informed on how democratic bodies functioned in the 5th century BC.



NOTE: The British Museum also states that ‘no talks’ [= THE GUARDIAN U.K., 4 December 2014] had ever been held with the Greek government about a loan of part of the Parthenon marbles. “To date they have always made it clear that they would not return them. That rather puts the conversation on pause,” ‘This last statement is clearly untrue, as there are letters on file relating to loan requests dating to 2002, between Sir John Boyd (then chair of the British Museum trustees) and Evangelos Venizelos (the Greek Minister of Culture). The Director of the British Museum was then, as it is now, Neil MacGregor.


— Greece’s Parthenon Marbles loan request that was rejected – Elginism (5 December 2014).


— ENGLAND, Parthenon marbles: British Museum to send more Elgin Marbles abroad despite Greek anger, THE TELEGRAPH, U.K. (06|12|2014).

The director of the British Museum has said it is already in talks to loan more Elgin Marbles to foreign museums.

Neil MacGregor told The Telegraph that the negotiations would continue despite the angry reaction from the government of Greece this week when it emerged that the museum was lending one of the Marbles – a headless statue of the river god, Ilissos – to the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.

“A number of other people, other institutions abroad have suggested that they are very interested [in borrowing Marbles],” said Mr MacGregor. “A couple of other conversations are in train.”
Mr MacGregor said the talks had been under way for “a year or so” and would continue in spite of Greece’s opposition to the loan of the Ilissos sculpture, which was unveiled in the Roman Courtyard of the Hermitage on Friday afternoon. He declined to give details of the timing or of which museums would receive the masterpieces.

Greece has long insisted the Marbles – collected by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, in the early 19th century and later passed to the British Museum – should be returned to Athens, where they once adorned the Parthenon.

Fresh loans to other countries are likely to infuriate the Greek government. On Friday, Antonis Samaras, the prime minister of Greece, said the British Museum’s transfer of the 2,500- year-old Ilissos statue to St Petersburg until January 18 was “an affront to the Greek people”.

“The British argument held until recently – that the Parthenon Marbles cannot be moved – is no longer valid; just as the existence of the new Acropolis Museum invalidated the other British argument that there was no appropriate space for exhibiting the sculptures,” he said.

“We Greeks are one with our history and civilisation, which cannot be broken up, loaned out, or conceded.”

The British Museum argues the sculptures were legally acquired and that it is up to the trustees to decide what to do with them. “This is a totally normal thing for the British Museum to do, to lend great objects to great museums,” said Mr MacGregor. However, the Ilissos statue is the first piece of the artwork ever to be loaned abroad since the Marbles were acquired.

Asked if Elgin works could be loaned to Athens, Mr MacGregor said: “To date, the Greeks have always refused to borrow [the Marbles] because they would not borrow what belongs to them. But were they to make a request, it would be reviewed in exactly the same terms as any other.”

Members of the British and Russian art establishments mingled in St Petersburg on Saturday at the opening of an exhibition of Francis Bacon paintings on the eve of the Hermitage’s 250th birthday.
The event was attended by David Sainsbury, the philanthropist and supermarket heir, and the Marquess of Cholmondeley, who lives at Houghton Hall in North Norfolk, which hosted a show of masterpieces from the Hermitage last year.

The Kremlin was represented at the event by Mikhail Shvydkoy, special representative on international cultural cooperation to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president.
Mr Shvydkoy said UK-Russia cultural ties were “taking on a special significance in the current climate”, in a reference to tensions between Moscow and the West over the Ukraine crisis.
“Culture is becoming an instrument to preserves some kind of contacts, some kind of atmosphere that might help revive a feeling of trust,” he told The Telegraph. “That is the main political problem, the absence of trust [between Russia and the West]. It’s not that we don’t understand each other: we don’t even hear each other.”

Mr Shvydkoy dismissed suggestions by some in Britain that the Ilissos marble should not have been sent to Russia because of the Kremlin’s support for separatist rebels in Ukraine.
“What if I were to say as the president’s representative that our relations with Britain are difficult, so let’s stop reading Shakespeare or Bernard Shaw?” he said. “I don’t think that would be right.” Meanwhile on Saturday, a steady stream of visitors passed the Ilissos sculpture in the Hermitage.

Igor Koryabin, an opera critic, 46, said he had come after the museum announced a mysterious “masterpiece from the British Museum” would go on display.

“It’s a surprise that it’s here despite the political undercurrents, of course,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s any risk we won’t give it back to Britain. There are agreements, guarantees. And I think it belongs in the British Museum now – the Elgin Marbles are symbol of it, they’re in its blood.” Elena Khodza, head of the museum’s section on Greek and Roman Art, said: “When a masterpiece like this is shown in a fresh setting it gains a new life, a new aura. The fact it is here is a great and significant thing.”


THE TELEGRAPH, U.K. (06|12|2014).

— ANTICA GRECIA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Fight Breaks Out Over Loan of Elgin Marbles to Russia, ARTNET NEWS (09|12|2014).

The British Museum’s controversial decision to loan a sculpture from the Elgin Marbles to Russia’s State Hermitage Museum (see “Elgin Marble Loaned to Russia, While Greece Keeps Getting Snubbed”) has created heated debate among politicians and members of the museum community.

Greece, which has long lobbied for the marbles’ return, struck the first blow. According to the Guardian, Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, called the loan a provocation, upon finding out about it last Friday. He declared: “The Parthenon and its sculptures were pillaged. We Greeks identify with our history and culture. They cannot be torn apart, loaned, and ceded.”

Samaras also declared that the loan effectively defeated the British Museum’s own argument against the repatriation: that the marbles were “immovable.”

The Greek government found a prompt ally in Turkey, whose Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu declared last Saturday, while on a trip to Athens: “We support Greece in its efforts to return the god Ilissos to the Acropolis museum. The return of works of a nation’s cultural heritage is very important.” Davutoglu refers specifically to the sculpture of Ilissos, which is the Elgin Marble currently on view at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Turkey’s support of Greece in the Elgin ordeal comes as the two countries begin to strengthen their bilateral ties after years of conflict over Cyprus, where half of the territory is under a Greek-Cypriot government and the other half under a Turkish-Cypriot government. Negotiations regarding the reunification of Cyprus are currently stalled but both sides are making strides to resume them “as soon as possible,” according to the Hurriyet, an effort which even small gestures such as Davutoğlu’s support of the Elgin Marbles’ return to Greece could help foster.

Meanwhile, the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, threw more wood on the fire, declaring that the institution is considering loaning more Elgin Marbles to foreign museums. “A number of other people, other institutions abroad have suggested that they are very interested [in borrowing Marbles],” MacGregor told the Telegraph. “A couple of other conversations are in train.”

And yet, despite the general outcry, MacGregor’s actions have also generated a number of supportive responses. On Sunday, for example, the Guardian published an article by BBC arts journalist John Wilson, praising MacGregor’s sustained efforts in the field of cultural diplomacy, even if the museum director is actually, in Wilson’s words, “cautious of being seen as a commissar of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s cultural wing.”

Wilson claims to have witnessed first-hand how MacGregor “negotiated the biggest foreign loan of the terracotta warriors” and traveled to Iran twice “at a time when diplomatic relations were not simply chilly but nonexistent.” Yet, Wilson reveals that the true reason for the Hermitage loan, far from being any sort of diplomatic coup, is the strong professional bond that MacGregor has developed with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Piotrovsky. MacGregor has, in fact, spoken of the Hermitage Museum as a “twin” of the British Museum, both being the “first great museums of the Enlightenment.”

J. Paul Getty Trust president, James Cuno, also recently spoke out in favor of increasing the amount of art that goes on loan from encyclopedic institutions such as the British museum as an alternative to repatriation (see “The Getty’s James Cuno Speaks Out Against Repatriation”). He argues that, among other things, many repatriation cases are spurred by ideological motivations and impulses to increase nationalism, using “ancient cultural objects to affirm continuity with a glorious and powerful past as a way of burnishing their modern political image.”

Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, the reputed international human rights lawyer signed by the Greek government to assist in the repatriation efforts (see “Can George Clooney’s Wife Rescue the Elgin Marbles?”), has not made any public comments thus far.


— ARTNET NEWS (09|12|2014).


— ANTICA GRECIA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA. Parthenon marbles: Greece furious over British loan to Russia, THE GUARDIAN (05-07|12|2014).

Parthenon marbles: Greece furious over British loan to Russia – Greek prime minister says loan of statue from pillaged frieze puts end to British Museum argument that disputed antiquities are immovable, Greece has reacted with outrage to the British Museum’s surprise move to loan one of the disputed Parthenon marbles to Russia. THE GUARDIAN (05|12|2014).