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.
Neil MacGregor bemoans Britain’s narrow view of its own history
In an article in the Guardian on 07 October, 2016, Neil MacGregor bemoaned Britain’s narrow view of its own history, calling it “dangerous and regrettable” for focusing almost exclusively on the “sunny side”. We ask - has Neil MacGregor lost faith in the universality of the BM?
Neil MacGregor, OM, is a brilliant ambassador for Anglo-German relations - would that he were anything like half as good a one for Anglo-Hellenic relations too.
2016 is the 200th anniversary of an act (of Parliament) for which the British Museum's Duveen Gallery is what the Germans most expressively call a 'Mahnmal', a monument to past and present national shame.
There is a simple solution: restore the Parthenon Marbles that the Museum so shamefully retains to Athens and to the Acropolis Museum, and there will then no longer be cause for any national shame whatsoever - so far as the present and future condition and curation of the Marbles are concerned, at any rate.
For the article in the Guardian, follow the link.
Professor Paul Cartledge
The Jesus College cockerel in the news again
The Jesus College cockerel is in the news again (Daily Telegraph).
Prince Edun Akenzua quite rightly wants back what was stolen (along with hundreds of other priceless artefacts, most now in the B.M.), from his great-grandfather, Oba Ovoramwen.
There is a difference between the Benin snatch in 1897 and Elgin's robbery of Parthenon marbles: the latter at least had the veneer of diplomacy and legality, whereas the Benin episode was just a crude British imperialist reprisal raid! But the outcome is the same in both cases: cultural objects that belong meaningfully in their original locations have been forcibly removed and replaced in alien environments.
For the article in the Daily Telegraph, follow the link.
Professor Paul Cartledge
200 years of the Marbles
You wouldn't automatically think that Dr Ian Jenkins (chief curator at the British Museum) would naturally be a friend to the BCRPM (British Committee for the Reubification of the Parthenon Marbles), but he is not our enemy either, and he is a personal friend of mine, as well as an admired colleague and expert on Classical Greek sculpture and architectural sculpture.
In the article (September/October 2016 British Archaeology), which was written to mark 200 years since the British government's decision in June 1816 to purchase Lord Elgin's collection of Parthenon (and other) Marbles, and which starts off by noting the latest (July 11) Parliamentary bid to have them restored to their native Athens, he provides a most succinct and pointed resume of the current state of play: how they came into Elgin's possession and then the British Museum's custodianship, what they represent, and what pieces of the Parthenon are not in the British Museum (and not in the new Acropolis Museum, either...).
Of course Dr Ian Jenkins is not nearly harsh enough on the current, anti-historical mode of their display in the Duveen Gallery; for that, see Mary Beard's short book. But he doesn't disguise the ill treatment the marbles have suffered in the BM both deliberately and accidentally over the years. Altogether this is a very worthwhile short companion to his several scholarly articles and major monographs:
Charalambos Bouras, architect and architecture historian, Professor Emeritus and much more
Among all the friends of our cause, whether in Greece, Britain or other countries, Charalambos Bouras stood out not just for his high standing and dignity, but especially for his practical knowledge and expertise in the architectural field. Architecture has a central importance in the movement for reuniting the Marbles: it was the architecture of the Parthenon, perhaps even more than its sculptures, that suffered worst from Elgin’s vandalism.
So to have the friendship of this uniquely respected authority was a real boon.
That respect was based above all on his achievement in regard to the restoration of the Parthenon and the other Acropolis monuments. As President of the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments, Professor Bouras was involved in a whole series of enlightened decisions, taken after the beginning of the most recent programme of work in 1975. The enhanced status given to YSMA, the Acropolis Restoration Service, resulted in expediting the work to the point where completion could be achieved in most of its essential aspects.
Co-operation between a scholarly committee and a huge team of technical experts had brought about something that is secure against even the most jaundiced disparagement of Greece and its cultural policies. He was the natural choice to contribute a chapter on this work of rescue and restoration to the 2008 edition of the late Christopher Hitchens’s book, The Parthenon Marbles:The Case for Reunification.
Those of us who met him in person will always remember Charalambos Bouras for his wisdom and restraint: quite simply, he seemed to be operating on a higher level than the rest of us.
The Committee of the BCRPM has learned with great sadness of the death of Professor Charalambos Bouras, a leading light of the campaign to restore and conserve the monuments of the Acropolis. We send our deepest condolences to all Professor Bouras's family, friends and colleagues.
Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek Culture emeritus University of Cambridge Faculty of Classics and Vice-Chair of the BCRPM
In addition to Charalambos Bouras many achievements and publications including the report of the 2013 international consultation on the future of the Acropolis, I will remember him - and miss him - as a generous friend.
I will treasure my own conversations with Charalambos but especially during a wonderful walk round the peripatos. Although he leaves a huge gap, am certain that all those working with the Acropolis Restoration Service will continue Professor Bouras great work.
William St Clair
Private Members' Bill for the return to Greece of the Parthenon Marbles
11 July 2016, a cross-party group of MPs submitted a Private Members' Bill to UK's Parliament calling for a change in the law to allow the British Museum to transfer ownership of the Parthenon marbles to Greece. This initiative led by Mark Williams is supported by Roger Gale, Margaret Ferrier, Jeremy Lefroy, Mary Glindon, Hywel Williams, and Liz Saville Roberts hopes to right a 200 year wrong.
This Presentation Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 20 January 2017.
More on this and the British Museums response from the article in the Museums Journal.
Cycling and the Parthenon Marbles
Congratulations to Chris Froome on winning this year's Tour de France.
Chris also won the 2013 and 2015 races and is the first to successfully defend his title in more than 20 years. He finished this years epic race, arm-in-arm with his team-mates behind the peloton after Andre Greipel won the final sprint finish.
Cycling has also featured in the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles Three very different and very dedicated individuals, share their passion for cycling with a deep desire to see this peerless work of art reunited in the Acropolis Museum, in Athens, Greece.
Currently the surviving Parthenon marbles are mainly (and almost equally) divided between two great museums - the British Museum in London, where their collection has been displayed for 200 years and the Acropolis Museum in Athens, which recently celebrated it's seventh year. It is in Athens, that the sculptures can be seen in the context of the Parthenon itself.
Decades of campaigning and centuries of requests to do the 'right' thing and return these fragmented sculptures has resulted in the main reason stopping the British Museum from doing the right thing. In the BM, these sculptures form part of world history. Over six millions visitors to the British Museum are shown how they should 'see' history in the context of other objects and their stories.
Back to cycling. Healthy past time for many (of all ages) and a leading sport for many more. But how did three individuals bring cycling into the campaign for the reunification?
We have to start with the outstanding Dr Christopher Stockdale, a long serving BCRPM member, inspired by Anne Mustoe. He bravely cycled from the courtyard of the British Museum on 15 April 2005 to the foot of the Acropolis in Athens and made his way with his bike all the way to the Parthenon. It took Chris 3 weeks, 3 days, 5 hours and 26.6 minutes to complete this cycle. More on this story here.
On Tuesday 01 July 2014, Dr Luca Lo Sicco embarked on his first bicycle trip from the British Museum, across Europe to Greece and the Acropolis Museum, where he donated his bicycle to the museum. Professor Pandermalis, President of the Acropolis Museum sent him this letter.
Luca continued his cycling the following year to Copenhagen, Denmark. It is here, in the National Museum of Denmark, there are two heads missing from a metope, which is in the British Museum in London.
On 02 July 2014, the edition of the Yorkshire Post Life & Style Magazine, carried an article on formidable octagenerian, Michelle Patrax Evans. Also a keen cyclist, Michelle lives in Leeds and was looking forward to the tour de France of 2014 but she has been passionate about the sculptures from the Parthenon for decades.
Before her interview with journalist Sarah Freeman, Michelle frantically made contact to ask, was cycling a part of the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles ....
Cannot describe her delighted response when we did inform Michelle that indeed Dr Chris Stockdale had made an amazing trip in 2005 before the Acropolis Museum had opened and that Luca, a University lecturer living in Britain was embarking on the same journey on the 1st of July 2014.
And with cycling playing a significant role for campaigners of the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, we would like to add our heartfelt congratulations to Chris Froome on winning the Tour de France yesterday and for the third time. A great achievement.
The Restitution, Repatriation, and Return of Cultural Objects: The Parthenon Debate
Kevin P Ray has written a lucid and timely analysis of the knotty problems facing any attempt to achieve a legal resolution of the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles: which court would be competent to hear a case about an alleged transgression, the details of which are in dispute, by Lord Elgin of the terms of a licence, the precise status of which is unclear, under the legal system of a country, the Ottoman Empire, which no longer exists, brought two centuries later by a national state, Greece, which first came into being only at a later date, and if such a court could be found, how would it enforce its judgement?
He considers The Hague Convention (there was no armed conflict involved), the UNESCO Convention (not retrospective) and the UNIDROIT Convention (the UK is not a signatory). He suggests the need for the articulation of a "new rule of customary international law", which does not currently exist, relying on these conventions together with the ECHR and the 1993 EU Directive on the Return of Cultural Objects, but points out the limitations even of this.
He concludes by suggesting that the situation may continue to be intractable unless the differing parties are prepared to move the question on from recrimination and disputes over title and ownership, with absolute positions and national and political emotions set aside and a new emphasis on flexibility, negotiation and mutual benefit.
Kevin Ray is Of Counsel in the Chicago office of Greenberg Traurig LLP. He focuses his practice in the areas of art and cultural heritage law and financial services (lending transactions and restructuring/insolvency matters). He represents and advises artists, art galleries, art collectors, museums and cultural institutions in a variety of transactions, including consignments, questions of title, provenance, and compliance with national and international law. He advises lenders and debtors on issues unique to art, antiquities and other cultural property in a variety of lending and commercial transactions. Prior to practicing law, Kevin was director of rare books, manuscripts and art collections at Washington University in St. Louis and taught at the Washington University School of Art.
Kevin is the author of Art and Cultural Property (forthcoming, American Bar Association Press, 2016), is a frequent speaker and writer on art and cultural heritage law issues, and is a frequent contributor to Greenberg Traurig's art and cultural property lawblog, Cultural Assets (http://www.gtlaw-culturalassets.com/ )