ACROPOLIS NOW?

Is there is a difference between the ownership of culture and the ownership of particular artefacts? I have been mulling this over while thinking about the significance of the opening of the new Acropolis museum in Athens on Saturday.

The structure is Greece's answer to the British argument that there is nowhere in their country to house the Elgin marbles, the sculptures taken from the Parthenon's frieze and brought to the UK, two hundred years ago.

Architect Bernard Tschumi's glass and concrete building will house the stones Greece still has as its centrepiece, in a glass gallery which is angled to complement the angle of the Parthenon temple three hundred metres above it. And plaster replicas of the stones in the British museum will sit next to those Greece has in its possession.

The British Museum is willing to lend their bit of the Elgin marbles in theory, but the Greeks have to refused to acknowledge that the British museum is the legal owner of the artefacts. It is a controversy which matters because it forces us to debate the issue of culture and globalism - even though, in the case of the Elgin marbles, it sometimes feels as though it is more akin to a school playground spat.

Where do you stand on this issue? Should the Elgin marbles go back to Greece, or stay in the British Museum? Is that even the right question?

Shouldn't the question be how do we deal with culture in a globalised world; how do we deal with monuments that have global significance?