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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For full details on all our latest news items, please visit our Latest News page.
On the duty to repatriate “exiles”?
The author argues that, beyond the archaeological and aesthetic evidence, the return of the Elgin Marbles is a fundamentally ethical issue.
The European crisis, financial in appearance, is in reality profoundly social, even societal. The problems that Greece has faced and those she is made to face are only the tip of the European iceberg. The number, types and levels of dishonourable shameless attacks on the birthplace of our civilisation should remind the thinking public = you, that Aesop’s lesson (the dogs and the fox) “it is easy to kick a man that is down”,13 is sadly relevant to the situation, in particular to the support from Britons, who pay or don’t pay income tax but advise Greece that if they want to stay in the Eurozone, they should accept the consequences and get on with it! Therefore we Europeans need to reflect on the meaning of the word ‘community’ and start building the group that calls itself the “European Community”. This research report on the Parthenon, a perennial issue since the 1816 parliamentary debate, now needs to be made accessible to a wider audience in the hope that the claims which attempt to justify the retention by Britain of goods received from an occupying power are, at last, seen to be what they really are...
Copyright . Michelle Pépratx-Evans
The Parthenon, before its destruction in part by fire during the Venetian siege, had been a temple, a church and a mosque. In each point of view it is an object of regard; it changed its worshippers; but still it was a place of worship thrice sacred to devotion: its violation is a triple sacrilege.4 (G G Byron, 1812)
New committee established to press for return of Parthenon Marbles
The culture ministry on Wednesday 19 September 2012, announced that it will re-establish a special advisory committee to coordinate actions aimed at securing the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles.
The president of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, Christoforos Argyropoulos, archaeologist Eleni Korka, attorney Irini Stamatoudi, who heads the Intellectual Property Organisation, and foreign ministry representative Panos Kalogeropoulos were listed as members of the committee, announced by Alternate Culture Minister Costas Tzavaras.
"Greece's moral right is above every objection that is based on arguments aired as mere delay tactics, and aiming to brush aside the basic principle that is universally applied, namely, the necessity of cultural monuments to be repatriated, meaning a return to the place of their origin," Tzavaras said.
SOURCE: ATHENS NEWS AGENCY
London International Colloquy on the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
The Colloquy's proceedings are now available on YouTube.
This is a preview
New Acropolis Museum picks up award in London
08 November 2010, London
THE WINNERS of the UK travel trade’s most prestigious annual tourism project awards were announced at the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Annual Gala Awards Dinner held at the Savoy in London on November 07, on the eve of the World Travel Market.
The event is the UK’s premier occasion for the travel industry to recognise the world's most innovative and newest tourism projects following nominations from members of the Guild, the premier professional association for bonafide journalists, editors, photographers, and radio and film broadcasters working in the travel field from Britain.
The Guild Tourism Awards presented for successful and environmentally sustainable projects that benefit local communities, are highly coveted.
The evening was attended by more than 300 of the UK’s top travel media professionals as well as high-profile representatives of the international travel world.
The winner of the Globe Category (receiving more than 250,000 visitors a year), nominated by Nigel Tisdall, was the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, built to replace the old museum which has done an admirable job since 1865, but was short of space. In 2001 a competition was held to build a new museum - one ten times larger and fit for the 21st century. The competition was won by a Swiss architect, Bernard Tschumi, and the new Acropolis Museum opened in June 2009.
Bright and spacious, the new museum lies at the foot of the Acropolis and has already attracted over two million visitors - many are amazed by the perfection of its design and the beauty of the artworks within. Built on three levels like disjointed slabs, the galleries use locally-sourced marble and recyclable glass and steel, and make ingenious use of convection to reduce the need for air conditioning. Wheelchair-friendly with 14,000 square metres of exhibition space, it rarely feels crowded. Signage is commendably unintrusive and visitors can walk right round its marvellous sculptures, with the changing daylight creating a contemplative atmosphere.
Greek Australian writes storybook: "Building the New Acropolis Museum"
The book “Building the New Acropolis Museum” is by Niki Dollis and illustrated and designed by Elena Zournatzi.
The children’s book tells the story of the realization of a dream. As Niki Dollis mentions in her introduction, it is “a book about hope, expectation… but also hard work for the construction and preparation of the New Acropolis Museum”.
The storybook “Building the New Acropolis Museum” by Niki Dollis is published by Livanis Publishing Organization.
Through the 60 pages of her book Dollis familiarises young and all readers, with the notion of a museum. It is a very interesting subject to begin with especially when it serves as an open window to the world of ancient Greece, such as the New Acropolis Museum.
The images are digitally processed. The texts, graphics and illustrations are dominated by bright colors. The book tells the story of the monument established 2,500 years ago up until the final stage of the construction of the New Museum. It invites the reader to an exciting experience of taking a “walk… in history!” as Niki Dollis writes.
Dollis wanted to share with everyone her unique experience since 2000, when she started her collaboration with Dimitris Pantermalis at the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum. She is now in charge of public relations.
In order to get the message throughout the world, the book was also written in English. For copies follow the link.
“When I enter the museum, I feel, I believe, such as our visitors – as if I am entering another Greece – but also great satisfaction and pride. That is why I felt the need to speak out, especially to children, for a case that some may have considered given”, stated Niki Dollis. She wanted to pass on a specific message to the children; that when you really want something, it can become true.
“I believe it was worth for someone to speak on the great, collective work of many people, which was required to successfully reach the realization of the dream. People who loved what they did and cooperated really well, something which is not so common in Greece. The Head of the Museum, Dimitris Pantermalis, architects Bernard Tschumi and Michael Fotiadis and many others. I thought to myself now this is a good example for the children as I personally believe in collective work, through which you can learn a lot. I believe that this is what we need the most in Greece today”.
From Australia to Greece
Dollis was born and raised in Melbourne by Greek parents with roots from Laconia and Lavrion. She never imagined that someday she would be working at the New Acropolis Museum, let alone to write her first book on it.
“For a Greek of the Diaspora, being so close to the Acropolis is something fantastic”, says Niki Dollis, who had a first “live” glimpse of the world monument – symbol at the age of twelve, when television programs started in Australia.
Having completed her studies as a social worker at the University of Melbourne, Niki Dollis actively participated in Australia in the development of employment programs for the unemployed, the operation of community centers, and the improvement of immigrant access to the healthcare system. She also served as the Director of the Greek-Australian Welfare. Dollis also served as president of an Australian NGO which represented the needs of global citizens with disabilities.
Since 1989 she worked at the Health Ministry in the State of Victoria as a consultant on improving immigrants’ access to the healthcare system services. She then became a Director of the relevant department. Meanwhile she was seconded to the Federal Ministry of Healthcare to prepare a national consultation document for immigrants’ access to Healthcare Services, while she was in charge of a program of the Federal Government and the seven States of Australia, aiming towards the amelioration of Public Healthcare. (National Public Health Partnership)
Along with her husband Dimitris Dollis, who was an MP at the time and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in Victoria, took a very important decision to move permanently to Greece along with their two children, Nina and Giannis in 1999.
“Whatever I learned through my work in Australia, was as if I was preparing for work here” says Dollis, since the museum as she states “is a public service, with a historical and cultural character, but substantially serves as a public service which must be accessible to the public, in the best possible way, away from bureaucratic procedures”.
Personally she believes her collaboration with Professor Pantermalis is a great honor. She describes him as an: “an open-minded person, who has the gift to guide his colleagues, but also listen to their opinion, which is something rare nowadays”.
Along with Professor Pantermalis she edited the text of the edition “Acropolis Museum; A year in operation”.
Today as the director of the Museum’s Head Office she deals with issues related to the operation of the museum, staff training and more. Something which gives her pleasure is seeing the pride of young people working in the museum and the efforts they make to give their best, responding to the rules governing its operation. And the dream lives on…
GREECE HAS THE RIGHT TO THE ELGIN MARBLES
Christopher Hitchens tells Christina Borg why the marbles must be returned to Athens
Two weeks ago, at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, due to open early next year, the Presidents of Italy and Greece took part in an historic ceremony (right) that could have major repercussions for Britain. The Italians were handing back to the Greeks a fragment of marble sculpture taken from the Parthenon 200 years ago. The fragment portrays, in exquisite detail, the draped lower leg and foot of a seated goddess, probably Artemis.
It had been removed by the notorious Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire which was occupying Greece at the time. Elgin gave the fragment to the British Consul-General of Sicily and it ended up in the Salinas Museum in Palermo.
Elgin took the bulk of the sculptures back to London where they have been in the British Museum since 1816. Greece has demanded the return of the so-called 'Elgin marbles' ever since, but to no avail. Now the question is very simple: if the Italians can be magnanimous and give back a treasure that is rightfully the Greeks', why cannot the British follow suit?
While the British Government and the British Museum have constantly prevaricated, the British people - as judged by opinion polls down the years - have felt more relaxed about giving the Elgin marbles back to Greece. One argument British officialdom has constantly used against returning the marbles has been Greece's reported inability to care for its antiquities. But the opening in 2009 of the New Acropolis Museum whose innovative design, the work of Swiss-born architect Bernard Tschumi, offers a sweeping 360-degree view of the Acropolis, surely puts an end to such criticism.
In a Times article dated August 27, the museum was described as "one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in modern architecture". Eleni Cubitt secretary of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles a campaigning body set up in 1983 as a response to Melina Mercouri's appeal for the marbles' repatriation - endorses this view. "The Parthenon Sculptures deserve to be housed in the New Acropolis Museum," she says. "Currently they are a fragmented piece of art, yet as one significant piece, visitors will be able to see the whole as it ought to be seen, in context, at the foot of the Acropolis itself."
Echoing these sentiments is the writer Christopher Hitchens, who earlier this year re-published his 1987 polemic, The Elgin Marbles, now retitled The Parthenon Marbles: The Case for Reunification. Hitchens insists the Greeks have "a natural right" to the sculptures, and that they belong on the hill of the Acropolis - "in that light, in that air. Pentelic marble does not occur in the UK."
So why hasn't this been evident to the British authorities? Hitchens says: "Partly, that is to do with Greece's geography in that for a long time it wasn't a stable country: repeated wars, occupations, demolitions, and so on, in which the temples suffered terribly."
Hitchens's interest in the marbles began about 25 years ago when he read an essay by Colin Macinnes, author of the 1950s novel Absolute Beginners. "He'd taken an interest in the Parthenon Marbles early on when no one was bothering with it and I read his essay and thought 'Shit, I didn't know all that. I didn't know.' I was predisposed to be a philhellene by my education and by making friends with a lot of Greeks during the time of the dictatorship. Who isn't impressed by what they find out about 5th century Athens?
"But the congealing, catalysing effect was this essay and around that time Melina Mercouri [the former actress and singer] became the Greek Minister of Culture and the subject got revived."
Hitchens wrote his first article on the subject for the Spectator in 1983. "The thing that struck me the most and still does was that though my article had taken one-by-one all the arguments for retention and said this is why these arguments that are well known are actually very bogus, people wrote to me as if I had not mentioned them. "And I thought - this is very odd that people should be so blind, I mean I've just said why that's a crap argument... and they write to me and say - 'What about if all museums had to give back all their stuff!' This was a wildly dogmatic, radical position: irrational, unexamined, intolerant and they wouldn't give you credit for having tried to deal with their case in advance.
"And so I thought, right, that means I'm onto something. It certainly means we will win the argument because people on the other side aren't trying to argue, all they're saying is 'Ya, ya, ya, ya, we've got them and you can't make us take them back!'"
Twenty-five years on, however, the argument is still not won, and there remain those who argue that if Lord Elgin hadn't removed the marbles, they'd have been destroyed or lost. And so, they argue, he did the right thing. Hitchens still maintains Elgin had no right to take them and the British should be impelled to return them. "We can't live with this embarrassment." And he's surprised the Greeks aren't ruder about it.
"Even if they say 'Thank you, you rescued our property from the fire next door, you looked after it while our house burnt down, the fire was our fault'... that doesn't mean we own the stuff. You wouldn't put up with anyone saying 'Oh well, yeah, thanks I guess I did look after it - in fact it's mine now.'"
When Mercouri died in 1994, Hitchens was one of those who walked in her funeral cortege. He still feels sad Mercouri didn't live to see the marbles returned - but sadder still that her husband, filmmaker Jules Dassin, died in March this year before he could see the official opening of the New Acropolis Museum. "That was a feasible desire. We - he and I - could've been there."
Hitchens is adamant that the campaign that Mercouri began will never be abandoned. "As Rabbi Hillel the great Babylonian Rabbi said, 'You may not ever see the victory of the justice but you have no right to abandon the struggle for it.'" He likes to imagine the day the marbles are returned: "Here's the day: the day's come, British PM arrives, the ship arrives at Piraeus, the ceremony's begun, there are fireworks... Who can think about that and not want it to happen?"
In June 2009, Chrstopher Hitchens visited the Acropolis Museum and wrote an article for Vanity Fair.
MP'S WANT ELGIN MARBLES RETURNED
A group of UK MPs are putting pressure on the government to return the disputed 'Elgin Marbles' to Greece or risk "great discredit".
Labour MP Edward O'Hara led the MPs in tabling a motion in the House of Commons on Thursday calling for the return of the antiquities in time for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The early day motion read as follows:
"That this house is aware that the Parthenon Marbles, most of which are included in the Elgin Marbles collection in the British Museum,
- are integral architectural features of the Parthenon, itself a UNESCO world heritage site;
- notes with interest that the Greek Government has commissioned a new Acropolis Museum at a cost of twenty nine million pounds to be situated at the foot of the Acropolis and including a glass gallery facing the Parthenon and specifically intended to house the Parthenon Marbles;
- understands that this gallery will remain empty as long as the Parthenon Marbles are not available for display in it;
- is concerned that this will bring great discredit to the British Government and the British Museum in the eyes of the estimated three million visitors per annum to the Acropolis Museum from around the world;
- recognises that this location is unique as the only one in which it will be possible to view the Parthenon and its sculptures together in one experience;
- and calls upon the Government immediately to enter into discussions with the Greek Government with the purpose of returning the Parthenon Marbles to Athens for display in their gallery in the Acropolis Museum when it is opened at the time of the Athens Olympics in 2004."
The motion was supported by fourteen MP's:
- Edward O'Hara
- Richard Allen
- Tony Banks
- Tom Cox
- Jackie Lawrence
- John Austin
- Alan Meale
- Rudi Vis
- Bill Etherington
- Desmond Turner
- Paul Flynn
- Gordon Prentice
- Ann Cryer
- Jimmy Hood