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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Wishing you all a peaceful festive season
23 December 2016
As the Christmas weekend is nearly with us, we would like to thank our many supporters for all your encouragement during 2016.
Message from our Chair, Dame Janet Suzman, DBE
To all our warm wishes for a Festive season. This year has brought many challenges to us all - with the next one promising all sorts of surprises. But at least we are joined in like-mindedness on our mission. A small but beautifully formed mission, if I may say so, in its essential contrast to a world that has lost any sense of what remains important. Have a peaceful festive season wherever you might be.
And from BCRPM's Vice Chair, Professor Cartledge
Best season's greetings, happy holidays to you all and warmest wishes for 2017 - which post-Brexit, post-Trump and post-Truth must be better than 2016!
Link to interview carried out by Janet and Paul for ERT TV on the occassion of the 200 year anniversary of the purchase by the British government of the Parthenon Marbles from Lord Elgin (1816).
And the link to BCRPM's event on the 07 June 2016 to mark the date, 200 years ago, when British Parliament voted to purchase from Lord Elgin his collection of sculpted marbles collected from the Parthenon and elsewhere on the Athenian Acropolis.
The event, 01 July 2016, at the British Museum to mark 200 years of the Parthenon marbles in Britain.
Sabine Weyer, soloist pianist performs at the Acropolis Museum
09 December 2016, the Acropolis Museum welcomes Sabine Weyer from Luxembourg. At 20.00 the soloist pianist will treat visitors to a special, evening piano recital, dedicated to famous composers including Schubert, Liszt, Beethoven, Scriabin and Debussy.
Sabine Weyer is a young and super talented pianist. In February 2015, Sabine won the first prize at the 'Grand Prize Virtuoso' competition, and performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London on March 13th.
On Friday 90 December, the Museum exhibition areas will continue to remain open until 10 p.m. and the restaurant until 12 midnight with special menus based on classical and traditional recipes, giving particular emphasis on local products from regional Greece.
On the same evening, famous jazz music ensembles will commence their Christmas jazz nights at the Aacropolis Museum restaurant.
Museums: letting the genie out of the bottle
Tristram Besterman was the keynote speaker at the London 07 June 2016 commemorative event organised by the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in conjunction with:
The International Organizing Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles Inc. (IOC-A-RPM) and the South African Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (SACRPM).
The event marked 200 years from the date in 1816 when the British Parliament voted to purchase from Lord Elgin his collection of sculpted marbles collected from the Parthenon and elsewhere on the Athenian Acropolis.
To date and despite many requests made by Greece, the British Government and the British Museum are not looking to find ways to reunite what is a peerless work of art. For more information on the UK Government and British Museum's position, please click here.
Keynote speaker for the event was Tristram Besterman and his paper entitled, Museums: letting the genie out of the bottle, provided all that attended with food for thought.
Placing the debate around the contested Parthenon sculptures in the context of the 21st century museum, Tristram reflected on the democratically accountable museum, his own involvement in repatriation and how we should open up the museum as a space where other voices are heard. Far from a betrayal of Enlightenment values, museums are true to their roots when they challenge orthodoxy and reframe authenticity.
To read Tristram's paper, please click here.
Tristram Besterman is a freelance adviser and writer on museums and issues of cultural identity, dispossession and restitution. He draws on over forty years of experience of leading, managing, and developing museums in the public realm in the UK.
Following a brief stint with the BBC in London, Tristram's first job in a museum was in Sydney in 1974. There he discovered that his interest in public communication also called upon the scientific training he'd received at Cambridge. On a visit to Canberra, Tristram witnessed the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside the national Parliament building, a scene that raised his own awareness of Aboriginal rights in Australia.
On his return to the UK, Tristram's subsequent museum career took him via Sheffield, Warwick and Plymouth to the Manchester Museum, where he was director from 1994 until 2005. In 2003, the Manchester Museum repatriated a number of human remains to Australian Aboriginal representatives, one of the first UK museums to do so. To read more on this, click here.
For over two decades Tristram was influential in the development of museum ethics in the UK and internationally, and was Convener of the Museums Association Ethics Committee from 1994 to 2001. He redrafted and renegotiated the definition of a new kind of socially reflexive museum for the profession. This underpinned the publication of the Code of Ethics for Museums which was adopted by the Museums Association in 2002. A radical departure from the object-focus of its predecessor, at the heart of the new Code was the museum's accountability to society.
He has served on a number of national bodies in the cultural sector, including the UK Government's Ministerial Working Group on Human Remains from 2001 to 2004. Trained as a civil mediator, Tristram has been an advocate for and instrumental in the repatriation of human remains to source communities in Australia and New Zealand from Manchester, Brighton and the British Museum. He contributes to the literature on cultural restitution and is currently involved in an academic study of the cross-cultural understanding and friendship that can develop between participants in repatriation.
Obama in Athens with views on democracy
The world watched and listened on Wednesday 16 November, as President Obama fulfilled a childhood wish to visit the Acropolis in Athens.
Adding photos of President Obama walking around the Parthenon on BCRPM's facebook page some commented that President Obama was 'fortunate to have the Acropolis to himself'. But for a US President with great understanding, we thought he deserved the exclusive visit as a worthy fulfilment of his dream.
President Obama's visit to the Acropolis Museum was also a highlight - seen below walking with Professor Pandermalis along the magical Parthenon Gallery (many casts of the original pieces, still in the British Museum) and views to the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
And today, as this week comes to a close, we reflect on the many clear and concise refrerences that President Obama and others have made about democracy.
BCRPM's Vice Chair Professor Paul Cartledge published a book on that very topic earlier this year and Benjamin Ramm interviewed Professor Cartledge about democracy post Brexit:
Today we're also inspired by Edith Hall's article, aptly entitled 'Making democracy thrilling'.
Edith concludes: 'Cartledge has an unrivalled eye for detail, as the sensitively selected visual images reveal. But what makes this book most memorable is his true ear. Time and again, he points out how the democratic phrase or mot juste has been instrumental in changing history, from the slogans inscribed on ostraka (the pottery shards used in Athenian ostracism), to Rainborough’s ‘the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he’ and Lincoln’s incomparable formulation ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. The restatement of these resonant phrases leaves Cartledge’s reader not only informed, but inspired.'
Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill and the Parthenon Marbles
31 October 2016 and The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Karen Bradley) states: "We have waited a long time to be able to ratify the 1954 Hague convention and accede to its two protocols. The need for this Bill is paramount. In recent months, we have seen the wanton destruction of cultural heritage.
Heritage, monuments and cultural artefacts are part of what makes a country great, educating and inspiring people, and bringing them together as a nation."
And indeed it is a welcomed Second Reading. For the full debate, click here.
Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute) (SNP) suggested:"While The Hague convention is specific to times of armed conflict, the work of protecting cultural heritage must also continue in peacetime. In the spirit of the convention, we urge the Government to take this opportunity to return the Parthenon marbles—the Elgin marbles—to Greece where they belong. The passing of the Bill and the ratification of the protocols give the Government an excellent opportunity to lead by example and celebrate the ratification of the convention with a highly appropriate and long overdue gesture."
Campaigners were grateful for this support from Brendan O'Hara and not surprised by Ed Vaizey response - although as ever one questions the real reasons for anyone wishing to keep a peerless work of art fragmented between two great museums - the Acropolis Museum in Athens and the British Museum in London.
Tmes like this we reflect on BCRPM campaigners such as the late Chris Price who spoke of cultural mobility and tried to meet with Ed Vaizey. Not least Eddie O'Hara, Chairman of BCRPM from 2010-2016 who also campaigned for what he believed in:
The Parthenon Gallery in the Acropolis Museum, is the one place on earth where it is possible to have a single and aesthetic experience simultaneously of the Parthenon and its sculptures
Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky speaking at the Acropolis Museum on conservatism and innovation
The Acropolis Museum has organised a presentation by the Director of the State Hermitage Museum, Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, which will be held on Monday, 31 October 2016, at 6 pm, in the Auditorium of the Museum, entitled "Conservatism and innovation at the Hermitage".
The presentation will be made in English. Admission to the talk is free.
Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky in an interview with the Guardian in February this year described the loan of the river god Ilissos in 2014 as showing how much trust there is between the British Museum and the Hermitage Museum, adding that culture was always above politics.
New family backpack at the Acropolis Museum
28 October 2016
Today is a significant Greek National holiday* and to commemorate this day, the Acropolis Museum invites families with children aged 8 to 12 to discover the Parthenon Gallery with the aid of the new backpack “The Parthenon Sculptures”. Through specially designed printed material and games, children will learn about the exhibits in a creative way, while discussing with their parents the story of the sculptures. The backpack is available in Greek and in English.
On 28 October the Acropolis Museum will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. with
free entry, and visitors will be able to enjoy the permanent exhibition areas but
also the temporary exhibition ‘Dodona. The oracle of sounds’.
Every Friday, visitors are able to participate the gallery talks
held by the Museum Archaeologist-Hosts: ‘Dodona. The oracle of sounds’
(at 1 p.m. in Greek and at 11 a.m. in English) and ‘A walk through the Museum
with the archaeologist’ (at 8 p.m. in Greek and at 6 p.m. in English).
The Museum restaurant on the second floor stays open until 12 midnight offering
special dishes based on traditional recipes and jazz live music from 8 p.m. onwards.
*28 October is the National Anniversary of Greek Independence or Ochi Day" in
celebration of Greece's refusal to yield to the powers of the Axis in 1940.