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.
Oliver Kamm, columnist for The Times adds his support to the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures
29 October 2013
Oliver Kamm wrote in the Times on 29 October, 2013 that he believes the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles should be returned to Athens to be displayed with the surviving fragments in the Acropolis Museum.
Oliver mentions the British Museums claim that the Parthenon sculptures in Bloomsbury “allows different and complementary stories to be told about the surviving sculptures". Oliver compares this equivocation to 'ripping apart the First Folio of Shakespeare and parcelling out random pages — not even complete plays or scenes'. Sacrilege.
Oliver's conclusion: 'The Museum of the Acropolis in Athens gets modern visitors as close to a unified masterpiece as is now possible. The sculptures surely should be housed there.'
You can read Oliver's full article on line
What is sad is some of the comments, but hey we applaud Oliver's support wholeheartedly and all those Times readers that can 'see' the logic in reuniting a peerless work of art that remains unnecessarily fragmented between two great museum, in two great cities.
'Ochi Day' 28 October was celebrated at the Acropolis Museum with free admission plus lots more
Monday October 28, 2013
The Acropolis Museum today, 28 October celebrated ‘Ochi Day’ with free admission and special events
October 28 is a Greek national holiday which commemorates the rejection by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940.
Today to commemorate this annual national holiday, the Acropolis Museum was open free of charge from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The museum also presented a talk for adults entitled “The Other Gods of the Acropolis” and an interactive workshop for children, entitled “Myths in Images.”
Although Athena was the patron goddess of their city, the Athenians also worshipped a host of other deities, among them Zeus, Asclepius, Dionysus and Aphrodite. “The Other Gods of the Acropolis” addresses the cult practices and monuments associated with these other gods.
“Myths in Images” gave children the opportunity to create their own artistic impressions of ancient Greek myths. Participants drew and painted the mythological heroes of Greek antiquity.
THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF EXPERTS ONTHE RETURN OF CULTURAL PROPERTY OLYMPIA 23-27 OCTOBER 2013THE CASE FOR THE REUNIFICATION OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES
For more information on this event please also visit the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport.
23 October 2013 , Athens, Greece
Eddie O’ Hara, Chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF EXPERTS ON
THE RETURN OF CULTURAL PROPERTY
OLYMPIA 23-27 OCTOBER 2013
THE CASE FOR THE REUNIFICATION OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES
I am fortunate today to have available to me the best possible of visual aids to support the case which I shall put before you. We are sitting in a museum, past winner of the Museum of the Year Award, the principal display of which is the very subject which I shall be presenting. We also sit within sight of that subject, the Parthenon, whose surviving sculptural components – not adornments – components, are at issue.
THE PARTHENON MARBLES, known also as The Parthenon Sculptures, formerly but I am pleased to say no longer The Elgin Marbles, are the subject of one of the oldest and most passionate disputes over the return of cultural property.
THE BRITISH COMMITTEE FOR THE REUNIFICATION OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES has been campaigning for thirty years in support of the reunification of these marbles. I pay tribute to Eleni Cubitt and her late husband James for their inspiration and initiative in establishing the committee, and the many distinguished academics, many now deceased, who have served the committee over that time. Over the years similar groups have been established in other countries. Now there are nearly 17 organisations on four continents, most of them affiliated to the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
I must first present the background to the dispute. This will be simply factual and descriptive – and brief. It will not include analysis of the artistic merits of the Parthenon and its sculptures. It will necessarily skate over some scholarly details. I apologise for this to those with much knowledge of the subject if this is superficial. My purpose is to spend as much of my time as possible on the dispute over reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.
Hungarian music at the Acropolis Museum, 25 October 2013, starts at 7 pm
Hungarian music at the Acropolis Museum, 25 October 2013, starts at 7 pm
On the occasion of the Hungarian Presidency in the Visegrad Group (2013–2014) and the National Day of Hungary, the Acropolis Museum's second floor balcony will provide the stage for an exceptional duet by Edan Duo. The Edan Duo comprises of two outstanding soloists, the violinist Édua Zádory and the pianist Anastasiia Dombrovska. Édua and Anastasiia (hence their name Edan Duo) formed a duo that has passion, personality and an astonishing homogeneity, where the boisterous and confident interpretation of Zadory is in perfect artistic harmony with the fiery and impetuous playing of Dombrovska.
The two talented musicians have already adapted an international approach and are well-respected abroad: Édua Zádory has had a 10-year-long international experience as a soloist and chamber musician, whereas Anastasiia Dombrovska has been a soloist with the most important orchestras of Europe on tour.
This will take place on Friday 25 October 2013, at 7 p.m., with an original program dedicated to renowned Hungarian and international music composers. Famous classical works by Ferencz Liszt and Jenö Hubay will be performed, as well as contemporary Hungarian music by György Kurtág. The program also includes widely-known melodies from the Hungarian dances of Johannes Brahms and the Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 by Ferencz Liszt.
This musical event is held with the kind support of the Hungarian Embassy in Athens.
Every Friday at the Acropolis Museum and Friday 25 October will be no exception - the Museum will remain open until 10 p.m. and the restaurant until 12 midnight with a special menu based on classical and traditional recipes, giving particular emphasis on local products from regional Greece.
The Parthenon Marbles — A European Concern
16 October 2013, Room P4B001, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium
Tom Flynn's presentation at yesterdays Round Table at the European Parliament in Brussels.
The round table was organised by The Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of the Hellenic Republic and MEP Rodi Kratsa, Vice-President European Parliament 2007-2012.
The Parthenon Marbles — A European Concern
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, distinguished members of the European Parliament. Let me begin by thanking Professor Sidjanski for the kind invitation to contribute to today's Round Table. It is a pleasure and an honour to be with you in Brussels.
What can we say about the case for reunifying the Parthenon Marbles that has not been said a thousand times before? What more can we add to the numerous persuasive arguments already made for reuniting the dismembered components of Phidias's finest achievement? How many more times must we convene to reiterate the importance of restoring coherence to a work of art whose desecration at the hands of Lord Elgin damaged one of Greece's greatest gifts to the world?
The answer to these questions is that there will always be more to say about the case for reunifying the Marbles. There will always be new and ever more compelling arguments for reuniting them in Athens. And until that happens our generation and future generations will continue to convene and will go on reminding the British Museum of its moral duty to restore to these objects the dignity that Lord Elgin so rudely snubbed. The story the Marbles tell, is of a cultural moment that is a precious and irreplaceable part of our birthright as Europeans and the bedrock of our democratic ideals. That story loses much of its narrative charge while its components remain dispersed across different locations.
The Parthenon Marbles are more than just a work of art. They are more than a mechanism through which to increase the footfall of cultural tourism. They are more than a means by which to impose some meaning on the randomly accumulated collections of an encyclopaedic museum.
The reason the Parthenon Marbles transcend conventional museum categorisation is that they have the potential to demonstrate that in a time of global economic turmoil and geopolitical unrest cultural objects can unite us across national boundaries and remind us of our shared humanity. I say 'potential' because there is an irrefutable logic to the proposition that a united,coherent sequence of objects that speaks with such clarity of our shared background is more likely to foster unity among nations than a fragmented series of objects that continues to symbolise disunion and cultural rupture. For this process to begin, however, the dialogue between Greece and London must rise to a higher level based on mutual trust and generosity of spirit.
The Parthenon Marbles are unquestionably important within the cultural landscape, but they have become renowned for all the wrong reasons. While they should be celebrated for representing the zenith of the Periclean building programme of fifth-century Athens, instead they are more widely recognised as the most controversial and divisive objects in world culture. They should be peacemakers but we are not allowing them to take up that peacekeeping role. Thus they have become emblematic of the wider disputes between western museums and developing nations that have become known as the 'culture wars'. While the Marbles remain immured within the Stygian gloom of the Duveen Galleries where their true significance to European art and culture is so wilfully misinterpreted and misunderstood — our attempts to build harmony in the realm of cultural heritage will be impaired. The international museum community — but more specifically the British Museum — has the power to repair that rupture. The symbolic resonance of a unifying gesture of this kind could be profound and long-lasting.
Allow me briefly to frame this within a broader context. The events that unfolded in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, and now in Syria, have brought unprecedented quantities of looted cultural objects onto the international art market. Many of these objects are removed from ancient sites under cover of darkness by local people seeking to scrape a meagre living for themselves and their families. Such subsistence looting destroys what archaeologists refer to as an object's 'provenience', that is the specific positional coordinates and context in which the object was located in the ground, tomb or temple site. Having been extracted, the objects and artefacts are moved up the art market food-chain, so to speak, before finally ending up in the home of wealthy collectors or museums.
Most museums now know better than to acquire objects of uncertain ownership history and the UNESCO guidelines have set down clear markers on acquisition. Moreover, thanks to the Internet and related communications technologies the world's encyclopaedic museums are now vigilantly monitored by well-informed individuals and interested parties for any hint of a problematic acquisition. The social network has become a critical filter surveying the movement of cultural heritage goods and no longer can museums acquire or display suspect objects without risking public exposure and widespread condemnation.
Nevertheless, so profound and widespread is the political turmoil ravaging the Middle East that the traffic in cultural objects is now arguably out of control. It is unlikely to improve until peace and economic stability return to the nations affected. Museums are implicated in this 'food-chain', partly as a consequence of their historical development as the repositories of cultural objects and partly because of their self-imposed obligation to continue collecting. In the last few months a major Australian museum was found to have acquired an important temple statue of Shiva that had been looted from a site in South Asia. It now seems likely that other museums were recipients of objects from the same supply chain. That said, on the other side of the equation, many museums have taken it upon themselves to return objects that have been recognised as being of specific sacred or ritual value to the source nations and communities from which they were originally expropriated during earlier times.
It is against the background of ongoing cultural upheaval that the British Museum now has an opportunity make an extraordinary gesture of reconciliation by reunifying the Parthenon Marbles. This would set an example to other museums around the world and would confirm that contrary to what many people have been led to believe, the British Museum DOES appreciate and respect the architectural significance of the Parthenon Marbles in relation to the Acropolis monument. It would be an acknowledgement that their very uniqueness justifies an amendment to the British Museum Act that has hitherto obstructed substantive progress on the issue. Our most eminent cultural heritage lawyer, Professor Norman Palmer of University College London, has pointed out that such an amendment would be perfectly achievable. This would clear the way for both parties to enter with open minds into a constructive mediation process. Instead of cleaving to an anachronistic legal instrument that will merely perpetuate the impasse, the British Museum now has an opportunity to demonstrate that Europe — and indeed the rest of the world — is unified by cultural objects, not divided by them.
Dr Tom Flynn FRICS
15 October 2013, Brussels
Cultural heritage and its symbols undoubtedly constitute the main capital of European peoples and the soul of the European Union. Respecting and restoring them is a European obligation and concern.
Rodi Kratsa MEP, European Parliament.
Henry Porter : "One of the reasons I am here is the late Christopher Hitchens, a good friend with whom I worked and argued for twenty years.
I disagreed with Christopher on practically everything - his belief in the innate corruption of Mother Teresa, for example, his enthusiasm for the Iraq invasion and for gun ownership in the United States.
But on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, Christopher was right, and I want to take the opportunity to salute the work he did in pressing the case for restitution. To some extent my contribution today is in memory of his stimulating company and his ability to make us all think and argue better, however crazy some of his notions. In his book, The Parthenon Marbles, he was at his most forensic, passionate and brilliantly polemical."
And indeed as Henry went onto say .... 'it's never too late'.
Coverage in the Telegraph:
Greek Drama at the New Acropolis Museum?
by James Beresford for Museums Journal
Opening to international fanfare in June 2009, the €129m New Acropolis Museum has become the embodiment of the Greek desire to see Elgin's marble trophies returned to Athens. However, the paying public has been less-than-impressed with the museum, which has failed to attract the visitor numbers that were predicted.
In 2006 journalist Tom Flynn noted: "The old Acropolis Museum currently attracts around 1.5 million people each year. The Greeks hope their New Acropolis Museum will at least double that figure."
In an interview in Time a year later, Dimitrios Pandermalis, the current president of the museum, anticipated in excess of two million visitors passing annually through the doors.
The museum has, however, failed to meet such expectations. In the four years since opening, 5,440,343 people have visited the museum – considerably fewer than the eight million its president envisioned.
Opening in the teeth of the economic recession, the low visitor numbers are partly understandable. Nonetheless, the rapid decline in attendance over the course of the New Acropolis Museum's short lifetime is worrying.
During its first year of operation (June 2009/May 2010), visitor numbers were a creditable 1,950,539, falling just shy of the two million anticipated by Pandermalis.
Since then, however, there has been a steep fall-off in attendance and the latest figure of 1,036,059 (June 2012/May 2013) reveals a drop of almost 50% in only three years. Equally unsettling is the plummeting position of the New Acropolis Museum compared with other international museums.
Attendance figures compiled by the Art Newspaper placed the New Acropolis Museum in 25th position in 2010 (the first full calendar year it was open to the public). The museum dropped 13 places in 2011, and an additional 21 places in 2012, finishing last year in 59th position – a fall of 34 places in just two years.
There are some grounds for optimism; the declining trend in visitor numbers should be reversed in 2013 as Greece benefits from the political upheavals affecting rival tourist destinations such as Egypt and Turkey. However, a reliance on the instability of neighbouring countries scarcely guarantees a bright future for the museum.
Restitutionists petitioning for the return of Elgin's keepsakes have greeted the disappointing attendance figures at the New Acropolis Museum with deafening silence – hardly surprising since drawing attention to the lacklustre performance can only damage attempts to repatriate the marbles.
However, it is hoped that the campaign groups meeting in Sydney this November will grasp the nettle and take time away from their usual diatribes against the British Museum to ask some searching questions of Greek culture officials in attendance.
James Beresford is a writer based in Athens. He is currently writing a book on the effects of the economic crisis on the Greek heritage sector.
Eddie O'Hara Chairman, The British Committee, For the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
Attendance figures are irrelevant to the case for reunification of the Parthenon sculptures. Indeed why not send them to Beijing? More important than numbers is the quality of the NAM, which was recently adjudged by The Times (* The world's 50 best museums, 11 May 2013) to be the third of the top fifty museums in the world. Central to its purposes is to provide the best possible presentation and narrative of the sculptures of the Parthenon. Their preeminence merits this. The NAM has demonstrated that it can provide it. And then there are the cultural and ethical grounds for reunification.
August Full Moon celebrations at the Acropolis Museum
Wednesday 21 August 2013
The Acropolis Museum celebrates August Full Moon on Wednesday 21 August 2013, with famous melodies of the Greek and world repertoire, performed by the historic Army Band of Athens, in the Museum’s entrance courtyard at 9:30 p.m.
The Army Band was founded in 1825 and for many years it represented the only musical authority in Greece comprising of world renowned music conductors, such as Maggel, Kalomiris and Kessaris, as well as talented soloists. Today, the Army Band of Athens supports all Army events and it participates with great success in world festivals of Army Bands abroad. Captain Mike Hasouris will be conducting the orchestra. On this occasion, the Museum will remain open from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight (free entry for all visitors from 9 p.m. onwards), giving visitors the opportunity to stroll through the galleries and enjoy the view of the Acropolis under the charming moonlight.