Wednesday 14 March, 2012, marks an important day in the struggle for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. It marks the launch of a state of the art, world’s best practice, website.
By way of background to the website it’s necessary to explain that it’s the site for the International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. This was the first Committee in the world to campaign for securing the repatriation of the famous marbles. Founded by Emanuel J Comino AM in 1981, the Committee continues the work of a previous committee which operated under the auspices of the Australian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA).
Current Committee Secretary, Dennis Tritaris of Orama Communications, and the committee at large have shown how well best practice in the use of Web2.0 tools can powerfully focus public gaze and concern on this enduring injustice.
With Greece confronting such difficult economic conditions the injustice of the continuing retention of the major part of the priceless Parthenon Marbles, by the British Museum, is even more painfully evident. While Greece confronts such acute financial difficulties the museum continues to earn a substantial income from the merchandising of the Parthenon Marbles. Despite the attempt to render the Marbles mere artefacts, detached from their historical, cultural and geographic context, and present them as in some way more relevant to the world in their present gloomy hall. The museum maintains that retaining Parthenon Marbles along with other artefacts “allows a world public to re-examine cultural identities and explore the complex network of interconnected human cultures.” To those of us who don’t accept the Museum’s imperial taxonomy, the Parthenon Marbles remain an integral part of the Parthenon as a monument to the glory of Classical Greece and the civilisation it gave to the world.
Sadly, a host of fallacies about the Marbles are still asserted by the British Museum. The latest attempt I’ve encountered in the litany of self justifying rationalisations presented in the latest clever museological propaganda piece. The video seeks to justify the retention of the Marbles with the argument that in the Museum their contribution to the whole of world history can best be appreciated. This approach, despite its imperial hue, has also been taken up in a BBC British Museum initiative A History of the World in 100 Objects.
Can the Marbles be better understood in gloomy Room 18, at the British Museum or in the New Acropolis Museum? For me the answer is indisputable. Anyone who has the opportunity to make to journey both the Russell Square and the Acropolis will find the answer.