Parthenon Marbles and the Acropolis Museum

This was a press release that I sent out on behalf of the International Organising Comittee – Australia – For the restitution Of The Parthenon Marbles.

11 November , 2009

The issue of the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles continues to be the world’s most celebrated cultural property dispute.   Since Lord Elgin took them their history has been the subject of both neglect and controversy. Now in the British Museum they’ve been rendered mere artefacts in a distinctly British construction of world history and their place in it.

The remaining parts of the chest and abdomen are in the new Acropolis Museum

Removing great works from their cultural context and displaying them in gloomy spaces is a distinctly 19th century approach to knowledge.  It is particularly sad when these brilliant works are acknowledged globally as expressions of the very heart of Greek culture.  The real tragedy of their exile in a foreign setting is in denying the world an opportunity to see them in the very place that gave them ‘life’.

In Athens the new Acropolis Museum has been built to display theses irreplaceable masterpieces, close to their original setting.  Here, aligned as they were on the Parthenon, it will be possible to  view these unique Hellenic Sculptures in a completely holistic context.

The real history of the Parthenon Marbles is an extraordinary story, far more interesting than their sombre display in the British Museum can possibly suggest.

On Sunday 15 November, Emanuel J Comino OAM JP Founder and Chairman of the International Organising Committee – Australia – For The Restitution Of The Parthenon Marbles, is presenting an address on the fascinating history of these priceless expressions of Hellenism.

Founder of the first organised committee to campaign for the Parthenon marbles return, his contribution to the campaign has been unwavering since the Committee’s foundation in 1981.  In 1983, Melina Mercouri asked the Committee to provide all the support it could to the newly formed British Committee. In 1997 similar support was given to the new American Committee and in 2000 the New Zealand Committee.

Emanuel speaks to a wide range of International conferences and seminars in places as far a field as Athens, New York, New Zealand and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Global interest in restitution of the Parthenon Marbles is now benefiting from a growth in the number of organisations campaigning for their return including Facebook support groups.

The International Organising Committee-Australia-For The Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles (EST. 1981) in conjunction with AHEPA and The Greek Australian Professional Association, invite you to attend at AHEPA Hall Rockdale next Sunday.

Ring 95884144 or  0418204466 for further information.
Russell L Darnley OAM

One thought on “Parthenon Marbles and the Acropolis Museum

  1. The Parthenon above Athens is one of the world’s most famous images, as are the Colosseum, Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Alhambra, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty, etc. These symbols represent the HEART and SOUL of their respective countries, and the pride of their populations. Whether the battle over the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles is too political, the taking was a form of theft, or the currently located marbles in London are safely preserved is not really the debate anymore. In the world we all currently live in, travel to almost any destination is within the reach of much of the world’s population, and cultural digital media is easily accessible, so collecting items for local display is not as critical as it once was. All artifacts from around the world should not need to be returned to their countries of origin, but restoring the most important CULTURAL ICON of a country seems a far more significant task.
    The new Acropolis Museum was designed with large windows facing towards the Parthenon, so while protecting the marbles in a safe and environmentally sound space they can be viewed closest to their source, inspiring all who visit them. The marbles have achieved iconic stature and mythological significance to Greece and its people. There is no better way to understand a culture more deeply than to know and appreciate its mythos, its stories, its dreams. Thus, the return of the marbles becomes an emotional and sociological issue, regardless of historical facts. In this light, the entire world can appreciate the cultural importance of the location of the Parthenon Marbles. Perhaps Cavafy summed it up most eloquently in his poem Ionic:

    That we’ve broken their statues,
    that we’ve driven them out of their temples,
    doesn’t mean at all that the gods are dead.
    O land of Ionia, they’re still in love with you,
    their souls still keep your memory.
    When an August dawn wakes over you,
    your atmosphere is potent with their life,
    and sometimes a young ethereal figure,
    indistinct, in rapid flight,
    wings across your hills.


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