The Case for the Return

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Caring for the Marbles

The British Museum have always claimed that the sculptures were very well cared for. Yet in the 1930s the sculptures were "cleaned" under the wrong belief that they were originally "brilliant white". The so-called cleaning was never the intention of the curators who knew very well that the sculptures made out of Pentelicon marble would have acquired a mellow honey colour when exposed to the air. Moreover the sculptures showed clear traces of colour that the scraping destroyed. The cleaning was done at the instruction of Lord Duveen who financed the building of the galleries for exhibiting the Marbles. The cleaning carried out with wire brushes, copper tools and carborundum caused serious and irretrievable damage that was admitted by the authorities of the Museum. However, the British Museum officials kept the full report on the incident carefully under wraps until a Cambridge historian revealed it in his book "Lord Elgin and the Marbles, Oxford University Press, 1998."

They should have never been removed.