The Chair of the British Museum George Osborne said that Greece and the UK could agree on an arrangement where they both share the Parthenon Marbles.
Speaking to LBC Radio in London, the former UK Chancellor was asked whether an arrangement would be made that would see the Parthenon Marbles displayed in both Athens and London: “I cannot speak for all the trustees [of the British Museum], but I think such an arrangement would work,” he said.
Osbourne told LBC: “The Elgin Marbles, the Parthenon sculptures, they’re an amazing testament to human civilization.”
“In the British Museum,” he added “they tell a story about civilization compared to all the other civilizations, China, India, other parts of Mediterranean” whereas in Greece “they tell the story, just Greek civilization.”
“I think there’s a deal to be done,” he admitted, “but I think there’s a deal to be done where we can tell both stories in Athens and in London.”
Osbourne added that “If we both approach this without a load of preconditions without a load of red lines, and we sit down as sensible people because I think sensible people can arrange something that makes the most of the path novels, but if either side says there’s no give at all, then there won’t be a deal.”
Osborne hints at lending the Parthenon Marbles to Greece
In December 2021, Osborne spoke of the possibility of the sculptures returning to Greece for a limited time in an interview published by The Times.
“There are those who demand the return of objects they believe we have no right to hold. That is not new either,” he said. “Lord Byron thought the Elgin marbles should be back at the Parthenon.”
However, Osborne said, the museum is not dismissive to such demands: “We are open to lending our artifacts to anywhere who can take good care of them and ensure their safe return—which we do every year, including to Greece.”
Greece intensifies campaign for Parthenon Marbles return
Greece has intensified its campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, a struggle that started in the 1980s by then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri. A recent poll in Britain shows that the majority of Britons is in favor of their repatriation to their home.
In May, UNESCO announced that Greece and the UK have agreed to hold talks on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
A report from the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP) says that Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni and the Minister of the United Kingdom Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Lord Parkinson have agreed to meet “in due course.”