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.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR VISIT
For full details on all our latest news items, please visit our Latest News page.
Full moon Tango at the Acropolis Museum 29 August 2015, plus free entrance
The Acropolis Museum to celebrate the August full moon on Saturday 29 August 2015 with a music and dance event ‘Tango Acropolis’. From 8:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., the Museum’s entrance courtyard will turn into a dance floor where world-renowned artists will first present tango choreographies and the public will have the opportunity to dance with music by the orchestra of the famous composer Marios Strofalis.
This event is held under the auspices of the Embassy of Argentina, in collaboration with the Acropolis Museum.
On Saturday 29 August, the Acropolis Museum will remain open from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight (free entry will be available from 8 p.m. onwards) and visitors will be able to enjoy the permanent exhibition areas but also the temporary exhibition ‘Samothrace. The Mysteries of the Great Gods’. The restaurant of the second floor will be open until midnight.
Classicists unite to say, 'we owe Greece a cultural debt'
It is timely to remember the very great cultural debt that we owe to Greece, how valiantly many Greeks fought in WWII and how hard-working, frugal and family-minded the majority of Greeks have long been and continue to be. Whatever the precise nature of Greece's economic future, it is profoundly to be hoped that the Greek people will receive robust support from its European allies, including those in the British Government.
Prof Angie Hobbs, Dr Bettany Hughes, Mar...tha Lane Fox, Tom Holland, Victoria Hislop, Prof Simon Armitage, Prof Michael Wood, Prof Paul Cartledge, Melvyn Bragg, Prof Chris Pelling, Dr Armand D’Angour, Natalie Haynes, Charlotte Mendelson, Prof Edith Hall, Prof Armand Leroi, Dr Michael Scott.
And for the full article in the Telegraph, read it here
Celebrate the Acropolis Museum's 6th anniversary
20 June 2015 Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
Many of us cannot help but relive the amazing time that was had by all when the superlative Acropolis Museum first opened it's doors in June 2009. There were those that criticised the new museum but the majority of visitors from all over the globe, were awe struck. The sheer scale and depth of the exhibitions, the great sense of elation, at all times with spectacular views to the Acropolis and the Parthenon were and continue to be treasured.
On occassions as special as Saturday 20 June, we will also remember those that aren't able to celebrate this superlative museum's 6th anniversary. In the case of BCRPM it will be the sad loss of Vice Chair, Christopher Price, who passed away in London in February. But just like Melina Mercouri, Jules Dassin, Robert Browning and Graham Binns, Christopher will be remember for his tireless campaigning to support the reunification of the fragmented Parthenon Marbles.
For those visiting Athens on the 20th June 2015, the Acropolis Museum will have the following events in store, including:
A new exhibition ‘Samothrace. The mysteries of the great gods’, which has been organised in cooperation with the Ephorates of Rodopi and Evros and the expert on Samothracian antiquities, Mr. Dimitrios Matsas. This exhibition will be open to the public from 9 pm till midnight and it will continue to be available for visitors until 30 September 2015. On the following day after the official opening of this exhibition, Sunday 21 June at 10 pm the Museum has also scheduled a conference focusing on recent archaeological research in Samothrace.
Images from the new exhibition ‘Samothrace. The mysteries of the great gods’, courtesy of the Acropolis Museum. This exhibition will run from 20 June until 30 September 2015
On the Sauturday 20 June, at 9 pm the Museum will also present a music concert in the entrance courtyard, to be performed by the Athens Municipality Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus with music and songs from the interwar years, the cinema and Greek operetta.
Additional bonus for visitors on Saturday 20 June - the exhibition areas and the restaurant of the Acropolis Museum will remain open from 8 am until 12 midnight and admission to the Museum will be reduced (3 euros) for all.
Support for the Greek Government's rejection of litigation in favour of diplomacy
The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM) notes the decision of the Greek Government to reject litigation in favour of a diplomatic approach to the resolution of the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles, respects this decision and offers continued full support to whatever initiatives it takes.
And a link to the paper that Andrew Dismore delivered at the London 2012 Colloquy which we organised in conjunction with the Internationalthe International Organising Committee - Australia - for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and the American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. Andrew Dismore is a former Labour MP and a Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden.
Andrew supports the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures but explained why he did not feel that a legal case would be successful.
We wish Neil MacGregor success in his future career.
NEIL MACGREGOR RETIREMENT
The announcement of Neil MacGregor’s impending retirement gives us a welcome opportunity to clarify a possible misconception. The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has been in open dispute with the British Museum over the retention of their collection of these marbles for the whole of his tenure and for some 20 years before. At no time has it ever been personal to Neil MacGregor or any of his staff.
We acknowledge that the British Museum, with its vast and important collection, is preeminent among the great museums of the world, particularly so for its standards of curation, display, research and education. We question however the concept of the universal/world/encyclopaedic museum and its justification for the continued impairment of one the most magnificent examples of world art.
We acknowledge the importance of cultural diplomacy but question how it squares with the British Museum’s refusal to deal seriously with Greece over the reunification of its national icon. In recent months we have been further concerned at the British Museum’s evident new policy of impairing still further the integrity of the Parthenon marbles by using individual pieces to support the theme of an exhibition and even by sending them abroad on loan.
We shall continue to campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles on cultural and ethical grounds, albeit perhaps this will not now happen on Neil MacGregor’s watch. In the meantime we are pleased to acknowledge the many tributes expressed about Neil MacGregor’ s qualities and achievements during his distinguished tenure as Director of the British Museum. We wish him all success in his future career.
The trustees of the British Museum have published a new statement of their position on the Parthenon marbles
THE PARTHENON MARBLES: RESPONSE TO NEW STATEMENT OF BM TRUSTEES
The trustees of the British Museum have published a new statement of their position on the Parthenon marbles. It consists mainly of a puzzling list of “common misconceptions”:
“ALL OF THE SCULPTURES OF THE PARTHENON ARE IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM”
This is puzzling given that the whole argument is about the reunification of the sculptures in London and Athens. Also puzzling is the statement that 30% of those that remain are in London and 30% in Athens. These figures of course refer to those which survive, divided approximately 50/50% between London and Athens.
“THE SCULPTURES IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM WERE STOLEN”
No one doubts that the British government bought them in good faith from Lord Elgin and entrusted them to the Museum. No one questions that he had certain licence from the Ottoman authorities. The questions hang on whether he exceeded that licence. There is much evidence that he exceeded that licence. For understandable reasons the Greek government will not accept the legality of his actions. However for a complex of legal reasons including the passage of time, the loss of much evidence, the demise of the Ottoman Empire and thus of its legal system, and much else, it is highly unlikely that the legality or otherwise of Lord Elgin’s acquisition of his collection could be conclusively demonstrated in a court of law. A Select Committee of Parliament of course is not a court of law. Anyway, the case for reunification rests mainly on cultural and ethical arguments.
“THE GREEK GOVERNMENT HAS ASKED FOR A LOAN OF THE SCULPTURES WHICH HAS BEEN TURNED DOWN BY THE BRITISH MUSEUM”
This also is puzzling. Given that the Greek Government (as quoted) “has never acknowledged the legal title of the British Museum to the Parthenon Marbles”, this situation could not arise. Indeed it enables the British Museum to go through the charade of offering a loan in full knowledge that it will be refused, because “loan” implies “ownership”.
“THE BRITISH MUSEUM FEELS THAT THE SCULPTURES SHOULD REMAIN IN LONDON BECAUSE THERE IS NOWHERE TO HOUSE THEM IN GREECE AND THE GREEK AUTHORITIES CANNOT LOOK AFTER THEM”
They don’t now, but they used to, until both claims were demonstrated to be unsustainable.
THE DIVISION OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES IS A UNIQUE CASE. THE SCULPTURES CAN ONLY BE APPRECIATED AS A COMPLETE SET.
We accept that many cultural objects....from one “location” have been divided and dispersed. The trustees cite anonymous altar pieces. However they fail to cite anything remotely comparable with the Parthenon, a fixed monument acknowledged by UNESCO itself to be the most important UNESCO World Heritage Site in Europe. We continue to argue that its case is incomparable and unique. We accept that it is not possible to bring together 100% of the original sculptures. However since when has is not been acceptable to recreate works of art to less than 100% of their original form? The British Museum exhibits many piece displayed in this state, not least their own collection of Parthenon sculptures.
THE SCULPTURES COULD NOT BE REUNITED ON THE PARTHENON
We do not advocate this. We accept that for reasons of conservation it is no longer possible. However it is common practice now for sites of fixed monuments to have museum annexes which display perishable parts removed for protection. The Parthenon is arguably better served in this way than any other monument. The whole area of the Acropolis and its environs is a pedestrianised archaeological park. It is possible to visit the Parthenon in its full context and in the same visit go the Acropolis Museum to view the sculptures in full context and correct configuration, in a glass walled roof gallery in full simultaneous view of the Parthenon itself.
THE MATTER COULD BE SOLVED BY THE BRITISH MUSEUM SETTING UP AN OUTPOST IN ATHENS
This is not a misconception. We firmly believe it is possible. It is rejected on the ground that the Parthenon sculptures “need” to continue to be seen within the context of the world collection of the British Museum in order to deepen our understanding of their significance within world history. Elsewhere in the statement this is described as “vital”. Not so. Of course the role they play is important. How could such magnificent works of art not be important to any collection? But in the end their role is contingent on the fact that, by an accident of history, viz the divorce of Lord Elgin and his consequent bankruptcy, they have ended up in the British Museum. If they weren’t there the British Museum surely has adequate alternate exemplars in its collection to make the same point in their world narrative. And if not, the Greek Government has a standing offer of a rolling programme of alternative exemplars to do the job.
In the end, we can accept that these sculptures play an important but not an indispensable role in the British Museum’s world narrative. However the price of this is the compromise of the integrity of a pre-eminent work of art (pace now sadly incomplete), the monument to which they belong, and the museum to whose narrative they ARE INDISPENSABLE as long as they exist.
Surely given the possibilities of modern technology, the establishment of an outpost in Athens is not only possible but a small price to escape the status quo, in which public opinion increasingly sees the stance of the British Museum as a vanity project and the Parthenon marbles as trophies in it.
UK declines invitation by UNESCO for mediation to reunite the sculptures from the Parthenon
Thusday, 26 March 2015
The British Museum, British Government (Department for Culture Media and Sport) and Foreign & Commonwealth Office have declined UNESCO's invitation for mediation of a peerless work of art - the fragmented sculptures from the Parthenon. Disappointing for most, it was predictable and disheartening, but we do hope - that dialogue to find a way forward - to reunite the sculptures might continue between the Acropolis Museum and the British Museum.
To read the letters, visit the British Museum web site here.
Chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, Eddie O'Hara commented:
The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles deeply regrets the decision of the British Museum to reject the invitation to submit to its mediation process the long running dispute over the reunification of its collection of sculptures from the Parthenon with those displayed in the Acropolis Museum in Athens. Their formal response contains a number of familiar canards:
- "The marbles are distributed throughout a number of "European museums" disguises the fact that approximately half are in Athens and approximately half are in London. Apart from one metope and about a metre of frieze, these are miscellaneous fragments with little context in a handful of other museums.
- "6 million visitors..." - to the British Museum, yes, but to the Parthenon Gallery? And anyway, is this an appropriate criterion?
- The British Museum insists on the distinction between itself and the government - and in the next breath states its legal obligations imposed by the government and modifiable by that same government.
- "The totality cannot be reassembled and placed on the Parthenon". But the totality has been reassembled in the Acropolis Museum, with ghostly spectres occupying the places of those in the British Museum. And since when has it been a rule that a work of art cannot be displayed unless it is complete? As for their replacement on the Parthenon, since the advent of acid rain the world is replete with sites on which removable parts of fixed monuments have been brought indoors for protection. In the case of the Parthenon the Acropolis Museum is located, aligned and constructed to enable a simultaneous view of both the sculptures and the building.
The publishing of the letter is coordinated with the opening of the exhibition "Defining Beauty - the Body in Ancient Greek Art", unsurprisingly, because as previous arguments have been variously discredited this exhibition marks a new line of defence of the status quo. The visit of Ilissos to St Petersburg was a preview. The BCRPM congratulates the museum on this exhibition which will predictably have magnificent and merited success. But the inclusion of pieces from the sculptures of the Parthenon was not necessary and ignores an important principle. The campaign for reunification is based on the insistence that those in Athens and those in London are together an artistic unity. Hitherto the British Museum has at least displayed its collection as an integral subset. Hitherto the criticism has been of their refusal to restore the integrity of the whole. Now it appears that they no longer respect the integrity of their subset but regard it as a quarry from which to extract exemplars to support an exhibition in which many if not most of the pieces are Roman copies of Greek originals. Quite unnecessarily. In return for restitution the Greek Government has a standing offer of a rolling programme of originals.
Next year will be the 200th anniversary of the purchase of Lord Elgin's collection. The demand for reunification will predictably escalate in volume. This sophisticated diversionary tactic will not deflect it.
The Parthenon Gallery in the British Museum, London, holds over half the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon, removed from the Acropolis in the 19th century by Lord Elgin, when Greece was occupied by the Ottomans. These were shipped to England, destined to decorate Lord Elgin's home in Scotland. Due to finances, Lord Elgin was forced to sell them to the British government and this is how, for nearly two centuries, theses halves have became part of the displays in the British Museum. Greece has requested their return since their independence, a few decades after Lord Elgin removed them.This request has been repeated many more times since that time -but to no avail.
The Parthenon Gallery in the Acropolis Museum, Athens displays the remaing half of the sculptures from the Parthenon with casts for the missing pieces, still on display in London. These casts were made by the British Museum and paid for by Greece.