Ilissos. Marble statue from the West pediment of the Parthenon. Designed by Pheidias, Athens, Greece, 438BC-432BC. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Government turns down meeting with Greece to discuss the Parthenon Marbles

Rebecca Atkinson, 08.04.2015
Should the government agree to a Unesco-mediated meeting?
The UK government has turned down a request from the Greek government to enter into mediation, facilitated by Unesco, on the subject of the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey and Europe minister David Lidington have jointly signed a letter to Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán, the assistant director at Unesco. This was responding to a letter of 9 August 2013 from Pérez de Armiñán's predecessor, Francesco Bandarin, to the culture secretary, foreign secretary and director of the British Museum.

“We have seen nothing to suggest that Greece’s purpose in seeking mediation on this issue is anything other than to achieve the permanent transfer of the Parthenon sculptures now in the British Museum to Greece and on terms that would deny the British Museum’s right of ownership, either in law or as a practical reality," wrote Vaizey and Lidington, adding that mediation “would not carry this debate substantially forward”.

Richard Lambert, the chairman of the British Museum’s board of trustees, has also written to Unesco. “We believe that the more constructive way forward, on which we have already embarked, is to collaborate directly with other museums and cultural institutions, not just in Greece but across the world,” he said.

The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
said: “Next year will be the 200th anniversary of the purchase of Lord Elgin's collection. The demand for reunification will predictably escalate in volume. This sophisticated diversionary tactic will not deflect it.”

Should the government agree to a Unesco-mediated meeting with Greece to discuss the Parthenon Marbles?

Vote in the poll and have your say in the comment box below.


Should the government agree to a Unesco-mediated meeting with Greece to discuss the Parthenon Marbles?


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08.04.2015, 22:12
UNESCO mediation would ensure that the issue would be addressed, as appropriate, on cultural and ethical grounds
Arthur Andronas
Director, Andronas Conservation Architecture
08.04.2015, 21:34
Good conservation practice necessitates the regaining of meaning to a World Heritage Site by the return of the Marbles to their original context ( the Pentalic Hills of Athens).
08.04.2015, 19:10
To find a diplomatic solution would mean a great deal to many campaigners globally and provide both museums - London and Athens - with feel good factor as they find a way to improve on the sculptures from the Parthenon being displayed as fragmented halves.
Chris Hudson
MA Member
Principal Designer, Chris Hudson Designs
08.04.2015, 16:24
My criterion is simple: If a work of art is place specific (e.g. part of a building; an altarpiece, etc.) it should wherever possible be returned to that place. As the Elgin marbles were purchased by Elgin maybe Greece should buy them back?