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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsCultureBritish Museum Director Backs Parthenon Marbles Loan Plan

British Museum Director Backs Parthenon Marbles Loan Plan

Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum.
Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. Credit: OliverN5. CC BY-2.0/flickr

The British Museum’s interim director declares he is in support of the plan for a loan arrangement wherein the Parthenon Marbles will be returned to Greece.

Progress towards a loan agreement between the UK and Greece over the Parthenon Marbles appears to be gathering momentum after the British Museum’s interim director, Mark Jones, told The Times, a UK newspaper founded in 1785, that he supports the plan.

Jones was appointed to his position in September, inheriting a range of ownership problems including renewed calls for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece in an ongoing dispute that is yet to be resolved.

On being asked by The Times if, were he still to be the British Museum’s director in a couple of years’ time, he could envisage an arrangement whereby the museum would return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, he replied “Yes. I could easily imagine a relationship between us and the Acropolis Museum that included mutual loans. Why not? They have some rather fabulous objects as well.”

Greece has previously said it would be willing to loan artefacts to the British Museum in return for being able to temporarily exhibit the sculptures in Athens.

Pressure on British Museum for Parthenon Marble’s Return

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis renewed pressure on the museum to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece late last year, with the museum’s chair, George Osborne, stating that “we can reach an agreement with Greece.”

Jones replaced Hartwig Fischer, who stepped down in August after it was revealed that 2,000 items had been stolen from the collection – a Greek and Roman curator was fired in July and now faces a police investigation.

Ten of the stolen artefacts are set to be displayed as part of the exhibition Recovering Gems – beginning this month – including a Roman glass cameo inscribed with a bust of Cupid. The BBC reported that the item was returned by Ittai Gradel, the dealer and collector who alerted the British Museum to the thefts.

Parthenon Marbles British Museum of London
The Duveen Gallery, which houses the Parthenon marbles. Credit: Solipsist / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Roughly half of the 160-meter frieze that decorated the Parthenon lies in the British Museum, while 50 meters of the entablature are in the Acropolis museum, in Athens.
The 5th century BC statues have been kept in the British Museum since 1816, after they were taken from the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis by agents working for the Scottish nobleman Lord Elgin.

The sculptures on the Parthenon’s western side depicted scenes from the Amazonomachy, a mythical battle between Athens and the Amazonians, while the east side presented the Gigantomachy, the war between the Greek gods of Mount Olympus and the giants. To the south is the Centauromachy, a battle between the horse-human hybrid centaurs and the Lapiths, a mountain-dwelling group from Greece. On the temple’s northern facade, is a depiction of the Trojan War.

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