Greece Unveils Museum Meant for Stolen Sculptures

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Centaur Fighting Lapith

Greece has built a new museum to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles, or Elgin Marbles, from the British Museum. The Parthenon Marbles are symbols of ancient Greek glory that were chiseled off the Parthenon temple two centuries ago by Lord Elgin. Greece has been demanding their return for decades, and in the past the main argument against their return was Greece's lack of a suitable location for their display. The new Acropolis Museum is a proud rebuttal and call for their return.

Located at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, the modern museum's five-stories of exterior glass walls reflect images of the Parthenon and surrounding ruins. The museum is the new home for hundreds of statues from the Archaic and Classical eras, but the Parthenon Gallery on the top floor is the museum's showcase, says archaeologist Naya Charmalia, a member of the museum's exhibition team. "This is the crown of the building, a glass box and glass surfaces, because the major requirement was the visual link to the Acropolis. You can see the monument and at the same time the sculptures from the monument," Charmalia says. In the display, plaster casts of the sculptures housed in London are interspersed with original pieces Lord Elgin left behind.
Charmalia says the contrast between the stark white plaster and the ancient honey-colored stone has a specific purpose. "Everyone understands at once what is missing, because if you say numbers, you can't understand, but you can see how many are missing," she says.
While pressure on the British Museum has increased, its spokeswoman, Hannah Boulton, firmly rejects repatriating the chiseled marbles to Greece.
-Angela Chen


Marlen Godwin 9 years ago
Its a really pity that Hannah Bolton, the Director and Trustees of the British Museum cannot see that reunification of Parthenon Sculptures can transcend any claims on ownership. It would also make the British Museum, truly the greatest museum in the world. Sadly we all know that Lord Elgin instructed the removal of the Parthenon Sculptures bwtween 1801-1805. Athens was at that time under the Ottoman Empire. Needless to say this removal caused greater damage to the Acropolis and some of the sculptures. These sculptures were intended to decorate Elgin's house. Sadly his wife left him and he was in fnancial diffiulties, so he had to sell them. By returning the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens, in the new Acropolis Museum, we as British tax payers would feel that the right thing had been done. Can the British Museum do the right thing? Yes it can and by an act of generosity, it would also prove to the world that the British Museum understands the significance of these amazing works of art and respects where and why they were created. Created for a specific building, to tell a story that is best told when they are seen together. As for those that argue that reunification would not be complete, yes not totally complete, but reuniting 98% is better than retaining 50% of the surviving sculptures between two cities. Marlen Godwin on behalf of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

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