Greek Minister slams British Museum over Elgin Marbles

Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos has lashed out at British Museum director Neil McGregor over the latter’s alleged claim that the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon should remain in London because they could never be reunited properly with the renowned Athens monument, news reports said on Saturday.

“I am sure McGregor will reconsider what he said if he wants to preserve his prestige and that of the museum he is heading,” ANA news agency quoted Venizelos as telling reporters on Friday.

In a radio interview with the BBC on Thursday, McGregor had referred to the Parthenon as a “ruin”. “Because the Parthenon is now a ruin the best use that the world can now make of these sculptures is for them to be… in London in the context of other great works,” he said.

Greece hopes to shelter the marbles in a new museum to be erected at the foot of the Athens Acropolis instead. Only in a museum which allows for visual contact with the Parthenon can a visitor fully appreciate the exhibits, Venizelos countered.

McGregor had qualified claims of countries whose archaelogical treasures are on display at great museums of the world as “worryingly nationalistic”.

The Marbles were carved out of the Parthenon frieze with the permission of Greece’s then Ottoman rulers by the British ambassador at Constantinople Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin, between 1801 and 1815.

They were sold to the British government and stored in the British Museum in 1816.
Greece has been staging a dogged campaign to have the marbles returned since the mid-1980s. The effort has gained fresh momentum after Athens was awarded the 2004 Olympics. - Sapa-AFP

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