Elgin marbles: should they go or should they stay

David Lee thinks loans both ways should be considered.

41w" sizes="(max-width: 2400px) 100vw, 2400px" />We have google_ad_width = 970; rehearsed the pros
and antis of retaining, loaning, handing back or exchanging the Elgin Marbles in the pages of the Jackdaw many times.
The main arguments on both sides, few as they are, remain the same and recent reiteration of these familiar points would suggest nothing new will ever be proffered on either side.

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Certainly the case for the sculptures’ return will not be advanced by the Greeks enlisting a junior lawyer because she’s married to a famous actor. Any impetus given by that opportunistic stunt petered out once the press wearied of airport snaps of Mrs Clooney’s million-buck grin while offering nothing but the most fatuous of platitudes.

Greece claims the balance has recently tipped in their favour with the

denounced in tube stations, museums, airports and on street placards, and even at


remote archaeological sites across the country. Nowhere is there any acknowledgement that without
Elgin’s intervention during a volatile period of foreign occupation, there might /* 9-970x90 */ be little worth a second look.

The argument that the nearly complete frieze would be exhibited within sight of its original location has some google_ad_height = 90; little merit. From one side of the new museum (see picture above) one can look up to the rear, less photogenic aspect of the Parthenon, though you can’t see where the frieze would originally have been placed because it was obliterated in the explosion and subsequent collapses, earthquakes and

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demolitions. It was in google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; any case more or less invisibly located high behind the peristyle arcade.

In its other galleries the Acropolis Museum is an unforgettable experience, spacious and with the most fabulous carvings and bronzes sensitively displayed. For devotees of sculpture and the classical world it is unforgettable, joyful even. The calibre of work, the gradual evolving understanding of form and surface pattern, especially in the archaic, pre-Periclean period, is staggering – the scholarly designation ‘primitive’ is laughably inadequate when dealing with such accomplishment. For students of Greek sculpture this museum, as well as the quality of the even more breathtaking collection at the National Archaeological Museum on the other side of the Acropolis (see cover), fills

in stylistic

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gaps not even hinted at in the British Museum’s story of classical //--> sculpture – it is revelatory.

Among the main arguments against restitution adduced by director MacGregor

is that the BM’s Greek galleries tell the full story of classical sculpture. Familiarity with museums in Greece gives the lie to this fantasy. The British Museum doesn’t even get close to

giving a

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complete account. To start with it is rare that any visitor to the BM experiences all its classical galleries open at the same time. Even after a

lifetime of regular visiting I’ve rarely managed it. The architecture galleries in the basement are open only every Preston Guild, and the Halicarnassos galleries
daily closed. Getting to see the marvellous Bassae Frieze in its bespoke attic is more of a lottery than El Gordo. MacGregor’s rhetoric  gets a far better press than it deserves.

BM displays give

a decent impression from, say, 450BC to 300BC but a visit to Greece soon exposes the threadbare nature of even that proposition. For all the beauty of some of its exhibits, the BM doesn’t present the full subtlety google_ad_height = 90; of what happened. Indeed, it will only be able to make such a claim when major loans are vouchsafed from Greece. This is why we should stop the war of bickering and insults and seriously consider a series of temporary swaps of material that would thrill aficionados in both countries.

Presently Greek arguments for complete