Welcome to the site of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. These pages contain detailed information on the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles, together with the case for their return to Athens, Greece. If you would like to find out about the various ways to get involved with the campaign, or simply to learn more about the subject, then please read on.
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Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 live 16 February 2014
John Pienaar dedicated the last item of his Sunday 16 February Politics programme on BBC Radio 5 Live programme to the issue of the Parthenon sculptures. One of his guests, actress Dame Janet Suzman spoke about how she came to support the reunification of these sculptures.
Download and listen to the interview HERE.
"When Melina Mercouri was Culture Minister of Greece (that's how old I am) I was roped into the argument - it's an old argument.
"I'll tell you why I'm pro the marbles going back to Greece, its because that building sitting on top of the Acropolis, the Parthenon - George is not wrong in calling it a Pantheon - it is a sort of Pantheon, a kind of model of what we value in the west.
"I think that to have the ancient building still standing from the ancient world from which these beautiful sculptures wrere wrenched, makes it unique.
"There isn't another one of them where you can actually see the wound.
"I think the Greeks are right in wanting to complete the artefact that for them is the most important in the world and gives us all our values.
"It was fairly hectic the way they were stolen and shipped and then put here.
"They have been a star attraction in the British Museum - we have had them for a long time. I think Boris Johnson understandably wants to put London first in the star stakes, but the Greeks have now built a stunning museum. I've seen it. A space waiting for the marbles and it is 'their' marbles really.
Our global cultural heritage belongs to all of us, and should be available to as many of us as possible
Josephine Quinn for the Guardian writes 'The legal case for giving them back to Greece is weak, but the marbles deserve to be seen in their original setting in Athens.'
To read the full article use the link :
'If the guiding principle is that our global cultural heritage belongs to all of us, and should be available to as many of us as possible, then more difficult decisions have to be made.
In this case, there's a persuasive argument that people should have the chance to see the marbles beside the Acropolis on which they were first erected. In the new Acropolis Museum, the Parthenon itself is visible through the windows of the room in which the marbles would be displayed together with the fragments that remained in Athens. The sculptures currently split in two – including a decapitated goddess and a great procession that disappears half way through – would be reunited, and would finally make all their sense. Athens is no less accessible than London to the rest of the world, and to see and think about this temple and almost all of its sculpture on the same morning, under the same Athenian sky, would be a privilege and a joy.' Josephine Quinn, the Guardian, 14 February 2014
A few good men - George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon
On Saturday 9 February, while promoting his new movie 'The Monuments Men' – based on the second world war platoon which rescued and returned thousands of artworks stolen by the Nazis - George Clooney was asked by a Greek journalist if he thought the Parthenon marbles deserved to be in Greece. From that moment the media world has, for over a week, had a reason to reflect and question once again, why the surviving Parthenon sculptures, mainly divided between two great museums- the British Museum in London and the Acropolis Museum in Athens- continue to be fragmented. How much nicer would it be if they could be seen as a whole, displayed in the Acropolis Museum?
What seems an obvious answer to campaigners for the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures, continues to produce a varied collection of responses by journalists, politicians, academics and the average person on the street.
John Whittingdale the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, politely suggested the actor might not really know what he was talking about. "I'm a great admirer of George Clooney, but I suspect that he probably doesn't know the history of the Elgin Marbles and the legal entitlement that Britain has to them," he said. "He's an American. I suspect he doesn't know why it is that Britain came to acquire the Elgin Marbles. There's a very strong view in this country that they should stay in the UK."
But Damon quickly chipped in: "That can't always be the British default position. I mean seriously, it's not actually an argument to say we are Americans we don't get it."
Murray said "England can take a lead on this kind of thing...."If [the marbles] were all together the Greeks are nothing but generous – they'd loan it back every once in a while … like people do with art."
But at the British Museum a spokeswoman said everyone was entitled to their view. "The trustees have always been very clear on the benefits of [their]remaining at the museum where they can be seen as part of a world collection. The purpose of the British Museum is to present the world to the world."
She added that there was "a danger of oversimplifying the issue".
The government supports the British Museum, and the shadow culture minister, Helen Goodman, said the museum had looked after the marbles brilliantly. "How would George Clooney feel if he could only act in American films shown in the US?"
Then the Mayor of London Boris Johnson had a go at George Clooney too. ”Here he is plugging a film about looted Nazi art without realising that Goring himself had plans to plunder the British Museum.
“And where were the Nazis going to send the Elgin marbles? To Athens! This Clooney is advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London’s cultural treasures,” he told the Telegraph. “He should stuff the Hollywood script and stick to history.”
Well it seems to us that all these well educated and knowledgeable souls have missed the point yet again. Surprised? Sadly, no.
George Clooney - has a point and that is - to return the Parthenon sculpture currently in the British Museum to Greece, would be the " right thing to do."
The British Museum can still continue to display and present the world to the world. There is nothing that is being oversimplified in this request apart from the lack of understanding by the British Museum and the British government.
Dr Tom Flynn wrote on behalf of the BCRPM: "appreciate why right thinking people continue to be appalled by Elgin's wilful desecration of a beautiful ancient building."
Professor Anthony Snodgrass, President of BCRPM also commented: “George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray have no axe to grind. They are detached and don’t have to save face unlike the British Museum, they can judge it as outsiders would do. Increasingly people not just outside this country but in Britain are not of the same opinion of the British government and the British Museum. In last week’s Guardian poll over 88% are in favour of Mr Clooney’s suggestion to reunite the Parthenon marbles in Athens. These are independent people like Clooney, Damon and Murray.”
Eddie O'Hara, Chairman of BCRPM added :
1. Mr Clooney's intervention is welcome for at least two important reasons. First, he is highly regarded as an artist of high intelligence and sensitivity who is not afraid to take a principled stance on matters of serious concern. WE are pleased that in this case he is prepared to support the case for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Athens. Second, we always find that when the public are made aware of the issue they consistently by a large majority support reunification of these sculptures. When a high profile personality such as Mr Clooney joins in the debate this dramatically raises public awareness and therefore public support.
2. Boris Johnson's comment is facile. It is typical argument by juxtaposition. He cleverly uses the subject of Mr Clooney's film (Nazi looting of art) as an argument against him. But the subject of the film is RESISTANCE to Nazi looting.
3. Our campaign is already very active on a global basis. We have had two global colloquies in the past two years (2012 in London, 2013 in Sydney) and a third is planned for next year. Video proceedings from these and an increasing amount of other visual material is available on line, as well as much traffic in the social media. The publicity from Mr Clooney's intervention will increase access to these, as well as generating much traffic in itself. This is all good for our purpose of raising public awareness.
4. We regularly remind our politicians and the cultural establishment that they are out of step with public opinion on the issue of the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. This development provides an opportunity for a new initiative.
Video presentation in the Parthenon Gallery at the Acropolis Museum featuring 3D-imaging of the frieze blocks
Four video presentation in the Parthenon Gallery at the Acropolis Museum featuring 3D-imaging of the frieze blocks.
1. Illustration from the west frieze - the rider with the restless horse at the centre of the frieze. In 1801 the scene was intact. The rider's head of which Elgin had made a cast, was lost prior to 1870.
http://www.youtube.com/ west frieze
2. East Frieze Block VI, restoration, length 4.20 metres, weight 7 tons
3. Block II from the north frieze - the chiselling
http://www.youtube.com/ Block II from the north frieze
4. South frieze, Block III - until the mid 18th century the block remained intact. During the summer of 1803, Elgin's team used iron crow bars and exploited the natural cracks of the marble to detach the piece with the sculpted surface. The detached piece was transported to England and eventually found its way to the British Museum.
http://www.youtube.com/ Block III from the south frieze
Acropolis Museum Gallery Talks
The Acropolis Museum gives visitors the opportunity to participate in presentations of selected exhibits held by Archaeologist–Hosts. Additionally, Archaeologist-Hosts are available to answer your questions about the Museum exhibits every day between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Visitors can find them by looking for staff wearing ‘archaeologist’ badges in the Museum exhibition areas. Permanent Gallery Talks are offered in English, in French and in Greek.
The Museum also offers every Saturday the possibility to participate in the Alternating Gallery Talk. The arrangement of an Alternating Gallery Talk in English can be organized via telephone, every Tuesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., on +30 210 9000900 /ext. 405.
Permanent Gallery Talks:
1. The Parthenon
Why we consider the Parthenon an exceptional monument of world cultural heritage? Why has it much preoccupied both previous and current viewers? Visitors have the opportunity to discuss with Archaeologist-Hosts issues relating to the architecture, the decoration and the exhibition of this famous monument, as well as its symbolism and history. They will also be able to look closely into its sculptures and to admire the temple in its natural environment through the transparent wall of the third floor of the Museum. Watch the videos
The presentation is enhanced with special video projections in the Parthenon Gallery featuring 3D-imaging of the frieze blocks and with the use of a digital tablet.
Greek: every Tuesday, at 12 noon
English: every Tuesday, at 11 a.m.
French: every last Tuesday of the month, at 11 a.m.
Participation is limited to 30 visitors per session. Duration: 50 minutes. For further details, please refer to the Information Desk at the Museum entrance.
2. Masterpieces in the Acropolis Museum
A presentation of masterworks on display in the Museum, their significance in their time and for world art. Visitors have the opportunity to engage Archaeologist-Hosts in discussion about art, aesthetics, religion and society at the time these works were created, all of which belonged to ancient Athens’ most important sanctuary, the Acropolis. The way in which they are exhibited in the Museum is also discussed.
Greek: every Sunday, at 12:30 p.m. and evening gallery talk every Friday, at 8 p.m.
English: every Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. and evening gallery talk every Friday, at 6 p.m.
French: every last Sunday of the month, at 1:30 p.m.
Participation is limited to 30 visitors per session. Duration: 60 minutes.
For further details, please refer to the Information Desk at the Museum entrance.
3. Archaic Colours
A presentation on the continuing research on the unique collection of archaic statues, which retain their colours to a small or large degree. Visitors have the opportunity to discuss with Archaeologist-Hosts on the color of archaic statues, its technical issues, its detection using new technologies, its experimental use on marble surfaces, its digital reconstruction, its meaning, as well as the archaic period’s aesthetic perception of color. The presentation concludes in the special “lab” on ancient three-dimensional art, which has been set up on the second floor of the Museum.
The presentation is enhanced with the use of a digital tablet featuring additional visual material, colored cast copies of exhibits, marble details painted experimentally using ancient pigments and techniques, video projections, and collections of pigments.
Greek: every Friday, at 12 noon
English: every Friday, at 11 a.m.
French: every last Friday of the month, at 11 a.m.
Participation is limited to 30 visitors per session. Duration: 30 minutes
Coupons are available everyday on a first-in first-served basis. For further details, please refer to the Information Desk at the Museum entrance.
For more information about the exhibition program 'Archaic Colours' click here.
Google doodle celebrates the 255th anniversary of the British Museum
Google Doodle celebrated today, Wednesday 15th January 2014 with a ‘doodle’ of the atrium of the British Museum. Today marks this outstanding institution‘s 255th anniversary with over 8 million outstanding objects and an equally impressive 6.7 million visitors.
It is at time like this that the millions of supporters for the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures can but reflect on the unfairness surrounding the continued division of the Parthenon sculptures.
Most days we are bombarded by the unfairness of those hungry, homeless, vulnerable…… those killed for senseless reasons, corruption, dishonesty, the list goes on and a constant reminder of all that is not right in our fragile world. Yet in the case of priceless cultural objects that measure one metre high and 160 metres long, divided mainly between two civilised and democratic cities - London and Athens - housed in mainly two superb museums, the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum. ‘We’ - the ‘we’ that know best, that care for culture, that are in charge, that can make a difference - cannot seem to find a way forward.
Imagine how wonderful it would be to create unity and be able to celebrate it whilst we still can.
For those supporters and campaigners that have passed away over the centuries all the way to those that died in last few decades, remembering Melina Mercouri and Christopher Hitchens - octogenarian Eleni Cubitt, founder of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has this to say: “We live in difficult times, facing many difficult issue, some perhaps so big, they may not be resolved for decades to come and certainly after my time. The continued fragmentation of the Parthenon marbles need not be an unresolved matter. The superlative new Acropolis Museum is the perfect place to reunite the surviving fragmented pieces of this peerless work of art.”
By shifting attention onto a more positive path and by concentrating on the benefits of reunification, the acclaimed British Museum and its well respected director, Neil MacGregor, would put right a very old wrong and in so doing, they could be justifiably proud. It would demonstrate strong ethical and moral leadership, proving to the global community that there is a way forward for the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures.
Chessmen’s move suggests an endgame over Elgin Marbles
Chessmen’s move suggests an endgame over Elgin Marbles
The British Museum has agreed to return on loan some 12th century chess pieces to the Isle of Lewis after 180 years
Published in the Times at 12:01AM, December 28 2013
Campaigners for the return of the Elgin Marbles believe the repatriation of half a dozen medieval chess pieces to the Isle of Lewis could mark the beginning of the endgame in their longest-running cultural battle.
From 2016, the chessmen will be permanently housed on their “home” island for the first time in 180 years, when they arrive at a purpose-built gallery from the British Museum. For advocates of the Marbles’ return to Greece, the move sets a clear precedent.
“So many of the original objections put up by the British Museum for refusing to return the Marbles to Athens have been swept aside,” said Tom Flynn, of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. “There are no reasons remaining to prevent them entering a dialogue with the Greeks now about the terms of and conditions under which return might be considered.”
The chessmen will arrive on “long-term loan” at Lews Castle, high above Stornoway harbour, where work goes on to complete the £8.5 million museum which will be their home.
The island’s new centre is being built to a demanding specification. The pieces, each carved from walrus ivory, will be exhibited behind 11.5mm anti-bandit glass, and there are tremor alarms and lockdown systems to prevent vandalism or theft.
The Greek Government believes that the issue of the Marbles is clear-cut, said Evangelos Venizelos, the Deputy Prime Minister. The request to return the Marbles was not simply made in the name of his country, but “in the name of the cultural heritage of the world and with the voice of the mutilated monument itself, that cries out for its marbles to be returned”.
Made in the 12th century, the chessmen were discovered near Uig on the Isle of Lewis some time before 1831. They were then taken from the island — “looted” according to one school of thought — arriving in Edinburgh, where they were acquired by a dealer in antiquities. He sold ten pieces to a local collector, and these now form the basis of the small collection at the National Museum of Scotland. The remaining 82 were sold to the British Museum.
Linda Fabiani MSP, a former SNP Culture Minister, said: “There are strong feelings in the Western Isles and throughout Scotland that all the chessmen should be returned from London,” she said. “The same applies to the Elgin Marbles.”
The British Museum said: “The simple precondition required by the trustees before they will consider whether or not to lend an object is that the borrowing institution acknowledges the British Museum’s ownership of the object. In the case of the Lewis chessmen, the Scottish government acknowledges the museum’s trustees’ title. The Greek Government does not recognise that the trustees own the Parthenon sculptures on behalf of the world public and has not requested a loan of these objects.”