“[T]he collection is a miracle”. So writes Michael Kimmelman on the opening of the New Acropolis Museum in the NY Times. He notes:
Ownership remains the main stumbling block. When Britain offered a three-month loan of the marbles to the Acropolis Museum last week on condition that Greece recognizes Britain’s ownership, Mr. Samaras swiftly countered that Britain could borrow any masterpiece it wished from Greece if it relinquished ownership of the Parthenon sculptures. But a loan was out.Pity. Asked whether the two sides might ever negotiate a way to share the marbles, Mr. Samaras shook his head. “No Greek can sign up for that,” he said.Elsewhere, museums have begun collaborating, pooling resources, bending old rules. The British Museum, the [Met], the Louvre and other great public collectors of antiquity have good reason to fear a slippery slope if the marbles ever do go back, never mind what the Greeks say.
Pity indeed. Lee Rosenbaum argues today that such a loan would be difficult, “More daunting than logistics of shuttling this monumental work back and forth is the issue of trust: The British Museum would need ironclad assurances that once the marbles were in Athens, they would be allowed to leave when the time came for their long-term London sojourn. I keep envisioning Elgin Marble Riots, with distraught Greeks hurling themselves in the path of transport trucks.”
However one comes down on this issue, it really is true I think that we are all the poorer for the inability of both the Greeks and the British Museum to work together, because somehow and in some form the sculptures should be viewed together, as one unified work of monumental art.
Here is David Gill’s terrific video post on the Parthenon Marbles dispute:
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