Should they stay or should they go?

Wadham College's debate chaired by Peter Thonemann at the British Museum resulted in a majority win for the 'remainers', those supporting that the Parthenon marbles should remain in London. It is 'painful' that such a debate highlights support for the continued division of a peerless work of art, surely the sculptures from the Parthenon deserve everyone's respect.

To read more on the debate results, you can view that here.

Not sure that Lord Elgin was a 'saviour' despite Dominic Selwood's well thought out arguments. Had Lord Elgin left the sculptures where they were, they might still be in Athens with the other surviving halves.

Agree with Tiffany that 'squabbling over the past is not necessary' but disagree that that the average visitor makes meaningful connections between the randomly acquired objects held by encyclopaedic museums. Indeed, given the choice between viewing the Parthenon Marbles within the contexts applied to them by British Museum curators and experiencing them in the city of Athens from which they originate, the overwhelming evidence is that the majority of the public would prefer to see them returned to Athens.

Paul Cartledge and Edith Hall do agree that the Acropolis Museum allows all visitors from all over the world to best appreciate the sculptures in context and with views to the building they once belonged. A building which despite the wars and destruction over millenia, still stands. The Parthenon continues to be regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization, and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments.

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The Acropolis Museum in Athens is a world-class museum with first-rate conservation and curatorial expertise. It is the most appropriate place in the world in which to display the Parthenon Marbles. Its proximity to the ancient monument would return to them some measure of their architectural significance. While they remain in London, this aspect of their importance is steadily being erased from the cultural memory.

The BCRPM wishes to thank Peter Thonemann for chairing this debate and all four speakers: Professor Paul Cartledge, Professor Edith Hall, Dominic Selwood and Dr Tiffany Jenkins for their contributions to this debate. Not least those that participated too.

This debate may not have been won by those that wish for the Parthenon marbles to be reunited but it is a debate that will continue to go on until the fragmented pieces might one day, join their other halves in the Acropolis Museum, Athens. 

London and Athens