UNIVERSAL MUSEUM CONCEPT AT THE HEART OF CURRENT DEBATE & AT THE GLOBAL LONDON COLLOQUY JUNE 19, 2012
June 11, 2012
The concept of the Universal Museum is at the heart of current debates about cultural property and nowhere more so than in the case of the Parthenon Marbles being held by the British Museum - arguably the definitive example of a 'Universal Museum'. It is a subject that will be examined at the an international colloquy on "The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles" to be held in London 19 & 20 June, to register please visit http://www.parthenonuk.com
As the start of the London Olympics approaches, pressure is mounting on the British Museum to reunify the Parthenon Marbles in what is universally acknowledged as their rightful home - the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, which opened in 2009. Greece's acute economic plight has merely amplified the need for a cultural gesture that many believe would have an immeasurable impact in kindling a sense of optimism and hope among the Greek people.
Amongst the distinguished speakers at the London colloquy is Dr Tom Flynn, who will sketch a brief history of the concept of the Universal Museum and will survey its current controversial status in relation to the repatriation of objects, and particularly to the case of the Parthenon Marbles. His talk will interrogate the function of these vast encyclopaedic collections in an increasingly 'globalised' world.
Most universal museums are struggling to respond to developing nations seeking to recover the material evidence of their past, much of which was appropriated by western powers during the imperial age. A stock response from western museum directors is to call for the establishment of more 'Universal' museums in developing nations. Is this a realistic aspiration or a strategy designed to deflect attention from a historical imbalance in the custodianship of cultural property? What is to be done?
Dr Tom Flynn will argue that instead of opening the notional 'floodgates' to more requests for return, the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles by the British Museum would light a beacon for a new era in global museum co-operation and cultural diplomacy. Such a gesture would reveal the 'Universal Museum' not as a retardataire institution looking back to the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment, but as a visionary agent of humanitarian change in the twenty-first century.
Additional notes for editors:
Dr Tom Flynn teaches the history of the art market and museum studies at Kingston University, and on Masters courses in Art & Business at the Wallace Collection and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, administered by the Institut des Études Supérieures des Arts (IESA) in Paris. He is the author of The Body in Sculpture (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997) and co-editor of Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum (Routledge, 1998) and The Universal Museum: A valid model for the 21st century (2012)
The international colloquy on “The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles” to be held in London 19 & 20 June 2012 has been organised by three campaigning organizations for the Parthenon Marbles, from the UK, USA and Australia. The event is timed to coincide with the third year anniversary of the opening of the new Acropolis Museum and the occasion of the 2012 London Olympics one month later. Registration is now open. To learn more about the colloquy including program and registration details, please visit www.parthenonuk.com
About The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM)
A group of British people who having considered the case for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles strongly support it and wish to campaign to achieve it. James Cubitt, a distinguished British architect, met with Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin before he formed the BCRPM to campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home in Athens. The Committee was set up in 1983 under the chairmanship of internationally renowned and universally respected Robert Browning, Emeritus Professor of Greek at the University of London. Then inveterate and accomplished, writer Graham Binns took over as Chairman from 1997-2002, followed 2002-2010 by erudite Prof. Anthony Snodgrass, Fellow of the British Academy, Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge. Currently, former MP Eddie O’Hara has taken on the role. For more information, visit: http://www.parthenonuk.com.
About The American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, Inc. (ACRPS)
Formed by international litigation attorney, Michael J. Reppas II, ACRPS is the leader of the American charge for the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece. Mr. Reppas, a widely cited author and legal scholar, has engaged in a near 15-year grassroots campaign with fellow Board members involving domestic and international lectures to advocate the cause. ACRPS is a duly recognized IRS § 501(C)(3) NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization, whose purpose is to educate the public on a local, state, national and international level on the compelling need to protect, preserve and repatriate looted cultural property to its country of origin – most particularly to effect the return from London to Athens of the Parthenon Sculptures. For more information, on this and ALL SIDES OF THE PARTHENON - A Touring Exhibition, visit www.ParthenonSculpturesUSA.org.
About The International Organizing Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, Inc. (IOC-A-RPM)
Formerly known as the AHEPA (Australia) Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, the committee was formed in 1981 under the chairmanship of Emanuel John Comino AM. It was the first committee in the world set up for the restitution. The Committee aims to bring pressure to bear on governments and influence public opinion to ensure the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. For more information, visit: http://www.parthenonmarblesaustralia.org.au.
AUSTRALIA – Dennis Tritaris, For the International Organising Committee – AUSTRALIA – For the