My (half-Corfiot) daughter visited the British Museum today with the Greek mother of one of her best friends. They went to look at the "Elgin Marbles" and were horrified to find that the British Museum is selling plastic fridge magnets of copies of the Parthenon frieze. Jenny, the Greek wife of an Oxford Don, was understandably incensed and almost caused a diplomatic incident. Your comments please? My own perspective is that since the marbles were bought from Turkish invaders rather than Greeks, they should be returned as soon as possible to Athens. As should everything else looted.
Message posted by janmanessi on 06 February 2011 at 11:35pm - IP Logged
I know how you feel Lavinia, however I suspect that if the marbles were back in Athens it would just be the marvellous new museum there whose shop would be selling fridge magnets!
Yes, in theory too agree they should be brought back, but it would be an icredibly dangerous precedent. If everything was returned to its country of origin that was not purchased from the original owners/creators then most of the world's museums would be empty, and younger generations would not have the chance to absorb the world's history, and other countries' cultures as they can now- I am especially fortunate at the moment as our revamped Ashmolean has just reopened with stunning displays from all over the world, superbly arranged and an inspiration to any child luck enough to go there.
There is a Cyprus room, sponsored by the Leventis Foundation- the contents enrich our understanding, whereas if they were back on Cyprus only a fortunate few foreigners would see them.
Message posted by Lavinia on 07 February 2011 at 12:26am - IP Logged
With the greatest of respect, my point Jan, is why would any nation not appreciate their own artefacts? Maybe they would enjoy having them on their doorstep rather than in a museum in a past empirical country. Surely historical plunder should be corrected if the countries of origin have made an effort to create beautiful new museums such as in Athens. I am a firm believer that these works of art should be returned to their original place. Places such as the Ashmolean and the British museum should showcase works of art from Britain. Obviously they have, in the past, been great custodians of treasures of the world, but the time has come to hand the treasures they were care-taking, back. The Cyprus room at the Ashmolean is appreciated and enjoyed by visitors to Oxford not Cyprus, which has to be wrong. Are the exhibits from Oxford or Cyprus? I think the British are very arrogant in believing that they are the only people who can arrange a spectacular display of ancient sculpture and artefacts. Why has the Leventis Foundation funded this in Oxford, rather than creating a proper museum in Cyprus? It makes you wonder.
Message posted by Peter G Ross on 07 February 2011 at 12:30am - IP Logged
I agree that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to their rightful home but the British Museum apparently think that a precedent would be set and the floodgates would be opened with other countries demanding the return of their plundered treasures.
I like the idea of returning them to Greece on a permanent loan basis.
Message posted by janmanessi on 07 February 2011 at 1:42am - IP Logged
Accept all your points, but maybe the Leventis funded it abroad because they are so proud of their country and wanted to show off their country's glories to a wider audience so people would realise that it is not just a small island at the eastern end of the Med.
The Elgin Marbles are a different kettle of fish however, and a real political hot potato. I am sure that if some way could be found to get them back without creating a precedent or anyone 'giving in' then it would, and should, be done
Message posted by Sid Ari on 07 February 2011 at 5:48am - IP Logged
If children are taken to the British Museum, what is wrong with them buying an inexpensive fridge magnet of the Marbles as a souvenir to take home? The museum has to make their money any way it can. Goodness knows we have enough cheap and tacky fake souvenirs here!
Personally, I think that the Marbles should be returned. Now that Athens has the facilities in the new museum for safe storage, the British Museum's argument for keeping the Marbles in London is seriously flawed.
BUT it would, as Jan has said, set a dangerous precedent.
Message posted by seaangler (Chat Room Administrator) on 07 February 2011 at 10:45am - IP Logged
If England was we give the marbles back we might as well give back the Channel Islands Falklands and Gibraltar along with the marbles while we are at it. As far as I am concerned its all part of our history...
Message posted by Wynne on 07 February 2011 at 12:34pm - IP Logged
I can see both sides of the argument. There is nothing to compare with the sight of the Parthenon but for those who have never been to Athens the marbles can give a sense of the wonders of Ancient Greece. Taking them back to Greece and showing them in a museum near to the original site (leaving aside the politics) would only marginally enhance what is aready a magnificent spectacle whilst making them unavailable to a potentially larger audience. Apart from the captivity issue, you could use the same argument to close all zoos. Then lions would only be seen by those resident in or able to visit Africa. Part of me wants the Marbles to go back, whereas there is another part that says it is good that they are available to a wider audience
Message posted by NicandJohn on 07 February 2011 at 12:37pm - IP Logged
My gut feeling is they only belonged to the Greeks until they failed to defend them against the Turks- "to the victor the spoils" etc. They were bought by the British, so if they were bought back by the Greeks there would be no issue with "precedent".
I visited the museum of Asiatic art (is that the correct name?) in Corfu town last summer, not sure how all display items were acquired?
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