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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The Acropolis Museum in its 7th year
20 June 2016, is the Acropolis Museum's 7th anniversary. The museum has welcomed 9.5 million visitors since 2009 and looks to exceed 10 million by this autumn.
“We have been able to retain the numbers of visitors since the first year,” Professor Pandermalis commented. "The main aims for the seventh year of operation has been maintaining the high level of services to visitors, increasing digital applications in exhibition halls and introducing an innovative program for temporary exhibitions" he added.
The Acropolis Museum was built to house what has been discovered on the Acropolis and the surrounding area, covering a wide period from the Mycenaeans to Romans and Early Christians in Athens.
From today 20 June 2016 and up to 10 January 2017 on the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, on the ground floor of the Acropolis Museum, visitors can experience Dodona, the oracle of sound.
This exhibition will provide a wider knowledge about the oldest Greek oracle, Dodona - tracing the way it functioned, its role and importance in the ancient world, and at the same time showcasing the human need to predict the future.
The exhibit’s narration begins with Dodona during the late Bronze Age. Clay and bronze artifacts illuminate the identity of the first inhabitants, the primitive cult of Mother Earth (Earth Goddess) and the establishment of Zeus’ cult. The main focus of this exhibition lies in Zeus and his predominant presence in the sanctuary. The central theme is the prophetic oak tree that with the rustle of its leaves would answer the agonizing questions of people and of what lies ahead.
Prophecies were also given by priests who de-coded the sounds of bronze cauldrons and the cooing of pigeons. The excavations conducted in Dodona have brought to light some thousands of questions carved in metal sheets of lead, posed by visitors in the sanctuary. Some of these questions concern matters of trade, debts, assets, court decisions, health, fertility, upcoming marriage, dowries and widowhood and are presented in a separate unit of the exhibition.
From the dedications in the sanctuary parts of bronze statues, parts of armory, swords and part of their suspensions, dedications from those who benefited from the gods or invoked their help are also displayed. Characteristic coins highlight the political aspect of the Oracle and its connection with Pyrros, the King of Epirus. Lastly, the relationship between the city of Athens and Dodona is presented by two exhibits from the Acropolis Museum.
This exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue of the items on display. On a big screen of the exhibition area, a video presentation will provide information about the Oracle and the natural environment surrounding it.
During the exhibition, the Museum’s restaurant will offer treats from Ioannina.
This exhibition is hosted at the Acropolis Museum with the collaboration of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina. The exhibits are on a loan from the Ioannina Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, Carapanos Collection.
Entrance to the Dodona temporary exhibition is 3 euros. Tickets are available for sale at the museum’s ticket desk.
200 years of the Elgin collection, special event at the British Museum
Friday 1 July 2016, 18.30–20.00 @ British Museum's BP Lecture Theatre a 'special event' for the 200th year anniversary of the British Museum’s acquisition of the Elgin collection.
Chaired by Curator Ian Jenkins, British Museum, panellists include David Bindman, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at UCL, Athena Leoussi, Associate Professor in European History at the University of Reading, and author and historian Dominic Selwood. Introduced by Lesley Fitton, Keeper of the Department of Greece and Rome, British Museum.
For more information and price for tickets, visit British Museum page.
And a reminder to Dominic Selwood that if he believes Lord Elgin 'saved the Parthenon marbles - BCRPM's response is as follows:
1. Whether or not Elgin "rescued" the Parthenon Marbles, that is no excuse for holding on to them now;
2. The Greeks fought their war of independence in the name of Hellenism, a concept and a spirit preserved and transmitted through their language throughout centuries of conquests and occupations;
3. The Parthenon is a monument of unique significance not just for Greece but for western civilisation;
4. The Parthenon is a fixed monument and it is in Greece;
5. The sculptures are integral architectural elements of it;
6. Both the Parthenon and it's other sculpted elements lack artistic integrity while they are separated;
7. Admittedly, the sculptures can no longer be re fixed to the Parthenon or indeed displayed anywhere in the open. However in the glass walled Parthenon Gallery of the magnificent Acropolis Museum, glassed walled and in line of sight of the Parthenon, and only there, they can be viewed simultaneously with the building to which they belong. Thus the case for reunification of the Parthenon marbles is not a legal one about rights of ownership, current or historic, but cultural and ethical. The onus of justification should be on those who resist restoring the integrity of the sculptures from the Parthenon - the Parthenon a UNESCO World Heritage monument, the very emblem of UNESCO itself.
Britain has kept the ‘Elgin Marbles’ for 200 years – now it's time to pass them on
There is a reason for this. It’s the reason why Dennis Hope, founder of the Lunar Embassy and self-dubbed President of the Galactic Government, is no lunatic but an entrepreneur who has sold over 600m acres of “extraterrestrial real estate” to over 6m people. It’s the reason why Nestlé has rebranded itself as a corporate water steward, while bottling ground water at the expense of local communities.
It’s also the reason why today (07 June 2016), on the 200th anniversary of the British parliamentary vote to purchase the sculptures that Lord Elgin sawed off the Parthenon, the British Museum continues to insist that its trustees are legally entitled to the sculptures.
Read more from this article in The Conversation here.
Constantine Sandis, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire
Ways to stand alone
The photograph on the dust jacket of Tiffany Jenkins’s Keeping Their Marbles shows a museum display of breathtaking elegance and beauty. Two dozen small fragments of marble sculptures seem to float in mid-air, fixed to one another and to the plain white base of the display with simple brushed steel rods. A good threequarters of the original sculptural group is lost, but the viewer’s imagination fills in the gaps with little effort. At the left, a female figure dashes in, reaching towards a rearing horse, perhaps pulling at its flying reins; at the centre, two huge figures, one male, one female, stand locked in struggle. In the sculptures, everything is motion and energy. By contrast, the gallery space that surrounds them is crisp and minimalist, with nothing to distract the viewer’s attention from the astonishing objects on show – except perhaps the wooded hills just visible outside the window, with the sun setting behind them. It is hard to imagine a better illustration of the book’s subtitle: “How the treasures of the past ended up in museums . . . and why they should stay there”.
The photo shows the surviving sculptures from the west pediment of the Parthenon, displayed with sensitivity and tact in a museum space of the most extraordinary beauty. The museum in the photograph is the Acropolis Museum in the city of Athens, one of the world’s truly great museums, which houses not a single item looted, stolen, or bought from a country poorer than the Athenians’ own. The female figure on the left, a study in kinetic energy, is the goddess Iris. The head of the goddess
is original, but her body is a plaster cast; Iris’s body today stands in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum. Dull is the eye, wrote Byron, that will not weep. He was right.
Read the full article by Peter Thonemann on Tiffany Jenkins' book here
The article was printed on 29 April 2016
Dr Peter Thonemann
The following week (06 May) the Editor printed a letter submitted by a reader, James Hall from Winchester:
There was, as you might have anticipated, a long set of email exchanges amongst BCRPM members.
Hon President Prof Anthony Snodgrass wrote a reply to the letter by James Hall.
Sir, - The odd cultural judgment apart - Byron as an ‘opportunistic buffoon’ -the great length of James Hall’s letter on the Parthenon Marbles (May 6) is down to the number of factual misstatements, some new, some worn by repetition, that he insists on including. There is no space to do more than list them, before picking out what is perhaps the prize specimen.
‘Most large sculptures in Greek museums have been stripped from temples (unearthed, not ‘stripped’ - that was left to Elgin); ‘imported slaves built the Parthenon’ (a tendentious exaggeration); ‘the National Museum contains work from colonies throughout the Aegean’ (a devious word-play on the associations of the word ‘colony’); the Acropolis Museum is ‘poorly attended’ (yet it somehow attracts greater numbers than that minority of British Museum visitors who actually enter the Duveen Gallery); ‘Those professionally involved with Greece presumably fear for career and well-being if they come out in favour of retention’ (he must be alone in so presuming).
As a member of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, I am flattered that he credits our movement with ‘great social, political and academic clout’, but that is surely another exaggeration; and it is equally far-fetched to call our opponents ‘a silent majority’ when they are neither silent nor a majority - as a glance, respectively, at the reactionary press or at a series of periodic U.K. opinion polls will show.
But: ‘the Marbles have been well loved, treated and contextualized’ in Bloomsbury’ - that is going too far. Well contextualized in the acknowledged ‘joylessness’ of the Duveen Gallery, with the frieze turned inside out and the arrangement doctored to hide the gaps ? And was James Hall around in 1999 when the British Museum hosted a colloquium on the ‘cleaning’ operation, carried out sixty years earlier at Duveen’s insistence, where one of its own Keepers described the cleaning as ‘a scandal, and the cover-up … another scandal’ ? Many of the London sculptures lost up to a millimetre of their surface in that operation; to see the original surface detail of the frieze slabs, one must revert to the pieces in Athens that had been ‘at the mercy of the toxic elements’ - well yes, but these have still turned out to be more merciful than the chisels and abrasives of Duveen.
Notice for Commemorative Event, 07 June 2016
Commemorative Event 07 June 2016, Senate Room, Senate House, London
This conference will mark 200 years from the date in 1816 when the British Parliament voted to purchase from Lord Elgin his collection of sculpted marbles collected from the Parthenon and elsewhere on the Athenian Acropolis. Two weeks later the Acropolis Museum will be celebrating its 7th anniversary.
And the programme:
As spaces are limited, kindly register by sending an email to:
Eddie O'Hara, a loss to the campaign
Eddie O'Hara sadly passed away on Saturday 29 May 2016 in hospital surrounded by his family. He will be missed by many, not least the members of the BCRPM.
Eddie became Chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles when Professor Anthnony Snodgrass retired in 2010. He described himself as 'an unreconstituted classicist and lifelong supporter of the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles'.
He was and will always be a great deal more than that. We will remember him for many aspects of his commitment to the cause but perhaps more importantly for his love and understanding of people.
Throughout his parliamentary career he tirelessly promoted the case for the Marbles to be returned to Athens, using various means including Early Day Motions, parliamentary questions, debates, meetings with ministers and the presentation of a Museums Bill, whose purpose was to remove any question as to whether museum trustees could divest themselves of objects in their collections.
He spoke at conferences and was interviewed regularly, his passion for the Parthenon Mables never waned and his dedication to the campaign was steadfast. He was until Thursday of last week involved in organising the 07 June 'Commemorative Event for the Bicentenary' to mark 200 years from the date in 1816 when the British Parliament voted to purchase from Lord Elgin his collection of sculpted marbles collected from the Parthenon and elsewhere on the Athenian Acropolis.
"The British Museum has deployed a seductive argument against their return. They have argued that the British Museum is one of a small number of ‘encyclopaedic’ museums, such as the Louvre and the New York Metropolitan Museum, and that the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum form part of a wider narrative of the development of western art together with outside influences upon it. They believe to return them would damage the integrity of this narrative. I disagree with these arguments and believes there are many other exemplars that the Greek Government could make available to replace the Marbles that wouldn’t damage the integrity of their narrative. " Commented Eddie O'Hara.
Eddie O’Hara also believed the British Museum overstates its case when it said that after two centuries in its collection the Marbles no longer play a part in any Greek narrative.
He added: “They should not put narratives in competition with each other but if they do surely the most important story to be told by and on behalf of the Marbles is that they form an integral unity with those in Athens, and together they form an integral unity with one of the most important historical monuments in the world.”
Eddie O’Hara also agreed with founder Eleni Cubitt, that he would welcome a credible response to the argument for the return of the Marbles on the grounds of human rights. The Faro Convention proposes that for a cultural community to be deprived of enjoyment of its cultural heritage is a violation of its human rights.
“The Greeks are a cultural community as defined by the convention and the Marbles are part of the cultural heritage with which they identify. Where there is a dispute good practice as defined by the convention includes measures to look at cooperation and reconciliation of these differences” concluded Eddie O’Hara.
Eddie O’Hara studied Literae Humaniores at Magdalen College, Oxford and had been Labour MP for Knowsley South for 20 years before retiring in 2010, General Rapporteur for the Cultural Heritage and Museums Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Trevor Timpson BBC News wrote in 2011: 'As a Labour MP from 1990 to 2010, Mr O'Hara was the "anchor man" for the BCRPM in Parliament.'
Heartfelt condolences from IOCARPM.
I'm deeply saddened to receive the news of Eddie's death. A huge loss to his family and friends and to the UK Marbles campaign, which he has steered with such passion and erudition. A fellow Liverpudlian, he never missed an opportunity to rib me over Everton's erratic performance. I shall miss his gentle warmth and good humour.
Although I can take no personal credit, I have long felt proud that Magdalen Lit Hum should have produced someone of such energy and learning with such admirable views on many matters, including the Greeks in our times. A sad loss for our cause.
International Museum Day 18 May & European Museum Night 21 May 2016
18 May, 2016, the Acropolis Museum will commemorate this year's International Museum Day with a Lion.
Large lions dominated the pediments of the Temple of Athena, whilst smaller ones decorated copper vessels of the sanctuary.
There will also be a collectors wallet with five commemorative medals including the Rooster, the Hare, the Crow of the Citadel and the Lion.
On Wednesday 18 May, International Museum Day, the Museum will be open from 8 a.m to 8 pm and visitors will be shown a new visual production, the 'adventures of the Parthenon marbles' in the atrium, on the third floor.
There, visitors can also meet the archaeologists and museum host guides, presenting "the history of the Parthenon marbles in later years". These presentatins will be in English at 10 am and in Greek at noon, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
A maximum of 40 visitors per presentation and registration will be taken at the information desk at the entrance of the Museum.
Children up to 12 years and their guardians, and school groups will learn about the relationship of the ancients with Lions and other cats under the action "in the wake of the lion" through stories, and game creation.
Archaeologists and museum host guides will also welcome visitors onto mobile laboratories on the balcony of the second floor overlooking the Hall of the archaic collection from 12 noon to 7 p.m. where guests can participate in both Greek and in English.
For European Museum Night on Saturday 21 May 2016, the Acropolis Museum will host a concert in the courtyard.
At 9 p.m. the Concert Ensemble of String Theory will perform "a strange World" and "Cheap: low – high quality – fun." Chopin's polonaises will be performed next to Balkan music, compositions of Grieg beside fados, songs from the far East and from the repertoire of Argyris Bakirtzis and 'winter swimmers', as well as from unusual areas in Greek discography. Performers include: Argyris Bakirtzis (song, narration), Yorgos Paterakis (concept-orchestrations, piano), Evi Mazi (flute, vocals), Konstantina Kyriazi (violin).
For more information visit www.acropolismuseum.gr/en