Without doubt, the controversy over the Parthenon Sculptures that British Ambassador to the Otterman Empire, Lord Elgin, had removed from the Parthenon, has become the world’s most well known cultural propoerty dispute. As the Secretary of the International Organising Committee – Australia – For The Restitution Of The Parthenon Marbles, I’m quite committed to their return. This has become even more imperative for me after visiting the British Museum and seeing what an old fashioned approach the Museum has adopted to the brilliant sculptures from the Parthenon. It’s like stepping back into the last century. These extraordinary sculptures have been plucked from their original setting and transformed into mere artifacts in a museum that has done this to a vast array of objects from around the world.
In response to such antiquated curatorial approaches the new Acroopolis Museum has been constructed using world’s best practice, to provide the Parthenon Sculptures with a home that allows a far more complete sense of their relationship to the Acropolis and the entire region from which their very substance was quarried.
One of the arguments often advanced by the British Museum, in defence of their questionable acquisition of the Parthenon Sculptures is that they have saved then from neglect, air pollution in Athens and the ravages of time. Unfortunately, the Museum’s own treatment of the Sculptures , the notable ‘cleaning incident’ has inflicted damage on the marble. The sculptures remaining in Athens have recently been cleaned using advanced laser and infra-red techniques, resultibng in some remarkable discoveries. This was visually documented by the BBC.
I’ll write more about this over the next few days.