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British Museum Damage Raises Concerns Over Parthenon Sculptures

Parthenon sculptures
The Parthenon sculptures exhibited at the British Museum. Source: Solipsist / Wikipedia/ CC BY-SA 2.0

A roof that has been leaking was reported on Thursday as the reason why the Parthenon gallery of the British Museum has not opened to the public yet this year.

According to The Art Newspaper, a total of seven galleries of Greek art — including the famous Parthenon gallery that hosts the Parthenon sculptures — were supposed to open to the public in late July.

However, this has not happened yet, as the heavy rainfall of July 25 in London ”caused flooding in central London and led to water leaking into one of the museum’s Greek galleries,” it says.

The cultural website claims that it has information on the subject from inside sources from the British Museum. A British Museum spokeswoman confirmed to the website that “there was some water ingress in one of the (Greek) galleries.”

However, the museum does not explain which one of these galleries has been affected.

Additionally, they did not comment on when the Greek galleries of the museum will reopen to the public.

Parthenon Sculptures Not Safe in the British Museum

Lina MendoniGreece’s Minister of Culture and Sports, had issued a statement in September 2019 regarding the condition of the British Museum gallery which houses the Parthenon sculptures.

This proves that water leaking in the British Museum is an ongoing issue and not something that happened due to extreme weather.

“The situation, as presented in photographs published in the press today, is very frustrating for the British Museum, and extremely offensive to the exhibits themselves, especially when these exhibits are no other than the Parthenon Sculptures”, Mendoni had declared in 2019.

The Greek Minister of Culture was referring to a series of photographs taken by Greek tourists who visited the museum in 2019 and found out that the ceiling of the gallery was visibly stained and had been partially destroyed by water leaking into the London building.

It is noted that in the winter of 2018, during another day with very heavy rain, rainwater entered the room itself, after penetrating the already-damaged roof.

The water kept falling next to the precious exhibits for days on end, raising concerns over the museum’s desire, or its ability, to safeguard these global archaeological treasures.

”The abandonment shown in the pictures from the British Museum reinforces Greece’s rightful demand for the sculptures’ permanent return to Athens and their reunification with the Parthenon,” Mendoni had concluded in her statement of September, 2019.

Back then, the British Museum was forced to respond. It admitted that ”a small incident occurred, during heavy rainfall when a small amount of water entered the gallery. None of the sculptures were damaged and the issue has been addressed.”

However, the 2019 incident as well as the delay of its reopening in 2019 prove that the ceiling has indeed not been fixed, posing a clear threat to the condition of the Sculptures in the extremely likely event of another heavy rainfall in the future.

The open row over the Parthenon sculptures between the Greek authorities and the British Museum has lasted for more than three decades now.

Greece does not recognize the museum’s right to hold the sculptures and demands their return to Athens, while the London-based museum claims that it is the rightful owner of the exhibits.

The sculptures were chipped off the facade of the Parthenon and transported to England in the early 1800s, when Greece was under Ottoman Turkish occupation.

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