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 The Elgin Marbles - a poll

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Should the Sixth Caryatid (and the rest of "The Elgin Marbles") be returned to Greece?
Yes?
67%
 67% [ 8 ]
No?
33%
 33% [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 12
 

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 14:41

@Triceratops wrote:
Vladd will keep them!!!!!

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/the-elgin-marbles-leave-britain-for-first-time/ar-BBglAR0?ocid=iehp

I doubt Putin will keep them, namely because Russia is in pretty much the same situation as Britain over the Schleimann Hoard.

But I contest the headlines currently screaming across the British press today, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the Marbles were sculptured in London and hadn't resided in Athens for 2,000 years at all.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 14:51

@Triceratops wrote:
The Pergamon Altar in Berlin. Should this be returned to Greece?


No.

a) Because, if ownership of the Pergamon Altar were even in contention, it would belong to Turkey.
b) Because the Pergamon Altar was excavated and removed to Germany through an agreement between the Ottoman Empire and the German Government.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 16:06

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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 16:32

Yep, that's about right Trike. People here are fuming, mainly because the BM has consistently refused even a loan of the Marbles to Greece (and particularly for the Athens Olympics) because according to the BM they are supposedly too fragile to move.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 17:00

A moment please - just to be fair here. The reason given for not loaning these artefacts to Greece at the time of the Athens Olympics (or indeed afterwards) was not because they were too fragile to move. The reason then, as it is now, was that one does not loan anything except in the expectation that one gets it back. Greece's consistent stance as expressed by politicians has been that it will not settle for anything less than a permanent transfer. As long as that insistence remains as such then the option of a loan is not on the table ever.

You have to remember that there are two arenas in which this issue is being contested - one involving curators, trustees and directors of museums in both cities and one being debated politically. It is in the first that the most heartfelt opinions are to be found, as well ironically as the most conciliatory, definitely the most informed. Both sides acknowledge that the other is basically striving to achieve the aim of displaying the sculptures to their best effect in the spirit of engendering appreciation and understanding of the culture in which they were fashioned. As far as I am aware no one in this arena has made any issue about their "fragility" in this context - after all they spent two years on the seabed en route to England and this didn't rob them of much of their lustre. Such claptrap however has often been spouted by others with an axe to grind in this matter.

On the political front indeed there is much silliness expressed by both countries, not least just now by the Greek Prime Minister. Personally I concur with him that Neil McGregor has a lot of explaining to do beyond the press release just issued by the BM, but McGregor does not have to defend himself against accusations of maintaining a policy based on the artefacts' fragility. Samaris has - like a lot of politicians in the past - shot his mouth off before checking his facts. If there is one thing that will not aid the Greek argument here it is this kind of hyperbolic and groundless accusation. Yes, it is insensitive to the Greeks to have negotiated a loan in the middle of the current debate (albeit a short-term loan and for pretty sound reasons in a museum sense). But if this issue is ever to be resolved in the Greeks' favour they will have to curb their politicians' enthusiasm a little and let a third party broker a compromise, as UNESCO are willing to do.

Last word about the "fragility" of the Elgin Marbles. The BM regards its "Parthenon collection" as a group of artefacts from several sources, including the Society of Dilettanti and from the Steinhäuser, Cockerell, Inwood, Smith-Barry, Colne Park and Chatsworth collections. Nearly all of these are on permanent public display and for that reason are continually assessed regarding their state of health. To date none of these artefacts have been deemed too fragile to move and in fact within the museum have been moved several times. All of this information is available on the BM's own public website and in their literature. Samaris should read a bit before he fires off a broadside next time.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 18:20

I haven't listened to what Samaras has been saying or not saying Nordmann, nor do I know anyone who particularly has as he lost all credibility, is about as popular as a hole in the head and is currently blabbering anything if he thinks it will improve his position in the polls. I said people are fuming, not the government. 

And that the Sculptures are too fragile to move has indeed been one of many of the BM's excuses for quite a few years now, lord knows we've heard it often enough from various people at the BM over the years. On hearing the news of the loan to Russia Dimitri Pantermalis (head of the Acropolis Museum) remarked "You see, they can be moved. In the same way they can be returned to Greece one day". An odd comment coming from one who has supposedly never heard the 'fragility' excuse from the BM. And another BM justification has been that it doesn't lend 'iconic' works, and then MacGregor has the cheek to say that Greece will be overjoyed with the loan to Russia? The man is surely delusional at the least, hypocritical at the worst.

But I'd believe the BM site on the Marble issue about as much as I'd believe the Greek government, which is zilch. Both are full of hyperbole and hot air.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 20:17

I was inclining towards the "yes" side, but Samaras' reaction has convinced me that the least sensible option possible would be to let the Greek government get their hands on them.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Fri 05 Dec 2014, 21:26

That's the point though Gil. As nordmann has said it shouldn't be about states or politicians. It's not 'the UK v Greece'. Nor should it even be about the Greater London Authority and the City of Athens Municipality. It should be an issue directly between the British Museum and the New Acropolis Museum as institutions.

It could be that this latest stunt by the British Museum is evidence of a fundamental shift in the stance of the Trustees and the beginning of a planned 'softening-up' process. There are 2 main elements which raise the eyebrows.

Firstly is the notion of sending the piece to the Hermitage as an institution rather than to Russia as a state. The fact that Russia is currently considered something of a pariah state by large parts of the Western European political and media establishment and the fact that the British Museum has nevertheless gone ahead with the loan seems hugely significant. As does the fact that they are stressing the difference between the Hermitage as an institution being separate from that country's government.

Secondly (and possibly raising the eyebrows even higher) is the secrecy which preceded the surprise announcement. The loan was presented (excuse the pun) as a fait accompli to the media and publics in Britain, Russia, Greece and around the world. A bit of drama there. A grand gesture. Mmm.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sat 06 Dec 2014, 00:10

@Islanddawn wrote:
And that the Sculptures are too fragile to move has indeed been one of many of the BM's excuses for quite a few years now, lord knows we've heard it often enough from various people at the BM over the years.

Have you? Or have you heard it said by other interested parties who claim it to be the British Museum's policy regarding the artefacts in question? There is much stupid and ill-informed comment out there now on this issue and one should be wary whenever anyone makes a statement purportedly representing the others' supposed policies, even in support but especially in opposition.

Whether you personally believe or disbelieve what the BM has placed in its literature I would still maintain that the evidence of one's own eyes regarding some of these pieces having been moved in the past would be a rather silly thing to attempt to refute by the people doing the moving - and to be fair to the British Museum they have always acknowledged this.

The British Museum, whether one likes or dislikes their stance in all this, has at least been consistent in all the time I have been following this controversy. What has changed things fundamentally with this issue in recent years is not related to the rights and wrongs of Elgin's or the Museum's actions in the past, since even were illegalities to be proven in the manner of their acquisition there are many more internationally established legalities allowing ownership to remain with the BM. Instead what has weakened the BM's position considerably is simply the provision of a better alternative regarding exposition and curatorship by its Athens equivalent. This addresses the use to which these artefacts can be put in the future with regard to their function as instruments of education, not whatever shenanigans in the past might have led to this sorry impasse. And it is this that opens the door to mediation by a third party, a mediation that can never occur if both sides become engaged in political score-pointing and retrenchment.

Vizzer has a point about the manner in which this present limited loan has been arranged between the BM and the Hermitage. One cynical interpretation of the secrecy behind it and the suddenness of the announcement - as well as the timing - could also be that it was almost guaranteed to goad certain Greek and British parties (especially those Greek politicians who are currently discovering that issues related to Ancient Greek heritage can be spun to deflect attention away from their other rather considerable and obvious shortcomings in managing modern Greece) will exceed themselves in statements of hyperbolic indignation so inane as to exclude them from any rational debate in future on the issue. Samaras has already proved this theory plausible within hours of the announcement.

This might be no bad thing if it means that UNESCO will be encouraged therefore to mediate directly between the museums concerned (and there are in fact upwards of ten, not just two) rather than the civic authorities who have involved themselves already in this issue. In fact, from the point of view of hoping that the frieze and other Parthenon statuary are at last reassembled in so far as is possible from the remaining parts, this might in fact be the Greeks' best bet.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sat 06 Dec 2014, 00:36

Unfortunately, from Melina Mercouri onwards, this has been made into a political issue. I agree - it would have been far better left to the museums to sort out.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sat 06 Dec 2014, 04:47

After reading comments here I went in search of statements from Samaras, more than concerned at what the plonker could have possibly said to provoke such a reaction. And it seems that our government are not the only ones prone to hyberbole and over reaction, and to be perfectly fair Samaras' comments are not quite as bad as they are being made out to be. This comment in particular seems to have been omitted from most reports coming from London, it is in answer to one of the more stupid charges that the Heritage are going to give the Sculpture back to Athens.

Greek officials said they did not plan to make aggressive moves to reclaim the statue while it was in Russia, such as demanding Moscow send it to Athens rather than back to London. They are seeking a settlement through U.N. cultural body UNESCO.

But Viz is correct, it shouldn't be a political issue which is why I deliberately steered clear of exaggerated rubbish coming out of the press (on both sides of the divide) regarding government comments and stuck to comments from the BM and the Acropolis Museum. Thanks to Nordmann for bringing idiot politicians (who only ever speak to home audiences anyway) into it here. 

And again to be fair Gil, love her or hate her if it weren't for Melina Mercouri this issue would never have been noticed by anyone. Greece first requested their return not long after it gained independence, just a few years after they were taken to Britain and has consistently requested their return ever since and has been consistently ignored. It was thanks to Melina Mercouri and the public attention that she could generate that the BM even deigned to answer the requests, albiet with some fairly dodgy reasoning and justifications, but at the very least the BM were finally talking. It really isn't a very nice to be treated as if one doesn't exist, or are beneath consideration.

All in all, is unfortunate that no-one has done themselves any favours in this debate, the more arrogant the British become the more hysterical the Greeks become and vise versa. Just put the boody things back where they belong and be done with it.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/05/parthenon-marbles-greece-furious-british-museum-loan-russia-elgin#start-of-comments
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sat 06 Dec 2014, 10:14

I've been looking at the British Museum act and it appears to me that, in order to permanently return the marbles, it would require an act of parliament to change said act and allow their disposal. Somehow I can't imagine that happening any time soon, can't you just hear the kind of rubbish that would be spouted during the debate? Have any of the current Westminster leaders got the bottle to stand accused of giving away the nation's legacy etc, etc?

Of course it's political, there's little quite so political as how governments wield and manipulate the past for their own benefit and to create a story that bolsters their position. If anyone's daft enough to believe that the Hermitage loan was not agreed without the cooperation and backing of the respective governments, they're quite staggeringly naive.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sat 06 Dec 2014, 11:06

There are several political agendas in play here so of course those involved in at least one of them have had input into this arrangement. There has been since the 1980s and Mercouri's role in bringing this issue to wider international attention a very real danger that the "Marbles" would become a political football, and another that the curators on both sides would be dragged into it, almost as footballs themselves. This was evident when the then director of the BM referred to "cultural fascism" when asked his opinion of the Greek political engine that had suddenly been deployed against his institution, and though he was replaced shortly afterwards the BM can be forgiven for thinking ever since along these lines; that they have been unfairly targeted as villains in all this and that they should exert even more effort in protecting their own cultural and professional integrity. In Britain this feeling is still exactly what motivates the "no" vote in these polls and Mercouri and her successors must take some responsibility for that. Politically Greece tried to circumvent negotiations with Britain - be it with its government or with its national museum authorities -  and bring international pressure to bear on "them" to cede ownership. By identifying the wrong target and by employing the wrong means they simply made things worse for themselves. The only winners so far have been those politicians who adopt this argument to strengthen or create political profiles. The only loser so far has been heritage itself and how it is to be understood and appreciated by ordinary people.

The BM could, if motivated accordingly, quite easily themselves employ some circumvention here. As owners of the property they can negate the requirement of an act of parliament to dispose of it, being careful of course to garner public opinion on their side in doing so. This option was actually discussed within more academic circles before Mercouri's involvement (check out Alan Wicker's interviews with museum chiefs in the early 1960s). Today I cannot imagine anything being further from the table thanks to what has happened in the interim.

UNESCO is probably the only sane and competent broker remaining, and probably can only act if the politicians on all sides butt out of the proceedings. On such slender threads hang any hope of an intelligent resolution to all this - at least a resolution satisfactory to the vast majority of "ordinary people" who, after all, are those for whom both museums are attempting to provide an accessible and intelligible cultural heirloom to experience and learn from.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sat 06 Dec 2014, 11:10

I said UESCO was the best to do the sorting because of world heritage sites issues, give it something to do which makes sense, and it would  lessen demands from others if UNESCO makes some firm foundation ground rules. Let's take politics out of such issues. Not changing my vote because I think this must be a good will issue .... and perhaps the Russians asked nicely! Right, I'll get back in me box, ta...... with old age comes a bit of common sense, I'm learning from being the doyen of this board.

edit  Ouch - I thought doyen meant oldest!!!!!! Have just looked it up.... such presumption.... sorry.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sun 07 Dec 2014, 11:30

I had started to write another screed about divorcing politics from ethics in answering the poll question posed but realised that in this case in particular it is a pointless exercise. Quite apart from the overt nationalism to which this issue unfortunately lends itself and which is almost impossible, it seems, to avoid on the part of some British and almost all Greeks consulted, there is also now an almost four decade long political argument (sometimes vitriolic in nature) by which this issue is now primarily identified immediately when people with any interest in the subject are asked to form a view. Those for whom the issue is new are in even a worse boat, the argument being now the only context in which they are likely to phrase their opinion, no alternative having initially been provided for them. The realisation of this makes me sad for the fate of the artefacts themselves, but also for the future of their interpretation by at least the next few generations - wherever the sculptures end up residing. What should have been an opportunity to elevate through controversy the importance in heritage terms of the Parthenon - regardless of how its remnants are distributed or located - has been supplanted by narrow-minded, close-minded and often non-minded, hard-set, uncompromising views that owe less to an aspiration to celebrate common heritage and more to an aspiration to promote the power structures and the individuals within these structures who opportunistically find themselves in a position to utilise the argument to that end.

I have said several times that heritage and its appreciation is the loser in all this. However what is also lost - as Stephen Fry indicated in the debate above when he said to "do the classy thing" - is the opportunity to use this case revolving around an early symbol of nascent democracy to allow true democracy to decide this issue. It is almost like looking at the first and last chapter in a book in which the Parthenon plays the role of unwilling central character entitled "Democracy, Its Struggle to Ensure Hope and Reason Triumph over Cynicism and Despair". We are nearing the final few pages now and from the thinness of the remaining volume it is looking bad, not just for the fate of the Parthenon but for the broader civilisation of which it has for so long been a potent symbol. Only a last gasp rush of decency, intelligence and broad-mindedness by the British and the Greeks can save the day.

Will we see a "with one bound he was free" moment at the very death? Exciting to anticipate, but I'm not holding my breath ...
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 16:17

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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 18:08

On the politics behind museum loans, interesting blog from a Grumpy Art Historian on the latest trend of using art as a diplomatic token.

http://grumpyarthistorian.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/art-as-diplomatic-token.html
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 22:29

What a pity we can't have a group outing to see this and then discuss it in a congenial pub.



It's due to be released in UK after it's premiered in Greece.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 03:19

@ferval wrote:
What a pity we can't have a group outing to see this and then discuss it in a congenial pub.

It's due to be released in UK after it's premiered in Greece.

That would be fun ferval, although we may all end up in an unseemly brawl on the pub floor. Fighting Either that or handbags at dawn.....

I'm not sure what to make of this new film as it seems a bit too emotive for my liking.

http://www.marblesreunited.org.uk/2014/07/celebrity-screening-of-promakhos-film-in-london-2/
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 04:57

One of the more misleading signs from the BM. Considering this is the museum who is the self proclaimed custodian of the world's heritage (without asking the world) and reserves for itself the right to control the narrative of Greek cultural heritage by sending a headless statue to 'enlighten' the Russians on a culture that isn't even theirs, this is an astounding piece of misinformation that is so easily refuted. They must know that, yet still feel they can and should insult people's intelligence. If they can be so inaccurate on a simple sign, how inaccurate is the BM on everything else?

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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 08:19

I can't see what is misleading about that sign, ID, and I'm wondering actually what else you would have them say about their exhibit.

It is also unfair to criticise the British Museum for attempting to interpret and explain global history through their exhibits - they are one of a very few museums in the world who are actually in an excellent position to do just this, and in fact not to do it would be a criminal neglection of their duty given their status, the amount of fantastic material they have and the incredible diversity of that material. It is a fantastic place to visit, and exhibits such as the Parthenon sculptures - controversially acquired as they may have been - are typical of just what makes it so special. Criticising them for being justifiably proud of this and intent on maximising the potential of their material on display is frankly quite odd, if one has a genuine interest in history, culture and heritage. At the very least one should have mixed feelings about museums like the BM and the Smithsonian etc who by definition are in possession of relocated artefacts.

Your overt and uncomprimising criticism however is probably typical of a lot of the same directed at the BM from Greece. And it is precisely this level and form of criticism which actually diverts from the real issue and - if your aim is to some day see the Parthenon sculptures reunited - really only serves to delay that prospect through diverting attention and effort into a hardening of stances on both sides instead of into the very real effort required for compromise and resolution to be reached. It is essentially a political criticism, not one apparently motivated by an actual desire to serve the cause of heritage, Greek or global.

My own view is that the artefacts quite rightly should not have been transferred to Greece until such time as the Greeks were in a position to display them in a context as secure and as meaningfully as the British Museum have traditionally done. This facility is now in place and in fact surpasses in potential the BM's equivalent, so now the discussion should concentrate and the hows and whens of the transfer, not the whys.

I also find your reference to the Hermitage as attempting to "enlighten" Russians about a culture that "isn't even theirs" patronising in the extreme. In fact it is horrific. I dread to think what you imagine the function of a museum is in world where "enlightenment" is restricted ethnically. If that is truly typical of the Greeks' attitude and shows their true motive in reacquiring the sculptures then it is probably a good thing that they continue to reside just where they are. I suspect however that the museum authorities in Athens have a somewhat more enlightened view than the one you express. I truly hope so in any case.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 10:34

A bit harsh, I think, nordmann. I suspect that IDS's point, and forgive me ID if I'm wrong in making this assumption, is that the BM shows a degree of presumption and indeed arrogance in undertaking to 'enlighten' by its interpretation of world history as if it was entirely objective and definitive. There's still a whiff of imperial entitlement there. "We quite rightly hold the best, the greatest: what we have, we hold, and we'll tell you how to think about them."

I'm not suggesting that the BM is alone in this, you know that no museum is simply a neutral assemblage of objects, rather a materialisation of a national or world view with a story to tell. What is chosen, how it is displayed is always a reflection of much more then just the intrinsic value of the exhibits. Not just national collections either; the Pitt Rivers, at least in its original form, being an excellent example of a particular theoretical and personal viewpoint on societal and technological development exemplified by its curatorial decisions. These days I find I'm often at least as interested in the sub-text of museums as in their contents.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 11:08

Thanks ferval, you have my meaning correct. Have been busy elsewhere this morning and am now out of time to formulate a reply to Nordmann, shall hopefully get back to it later on today.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 11:18

Your assessment of ID's comment is precisely what I thought she meant too, ferval, and I see that while I was writing this ID herself has confirmed we were both correct.

How can any museum then avoid the accusation of "presumption" in its effort to enlighten visitors regarding world history? The British Museum is in a better position than most to do just that and I don't think their objective smacks of "imperial entitlement" at all. To avoid such accusations of "we rightly have all this stuff and will tell you how to regard it" they would have to basically give everything away and/or present what's left in silence. I find that a bit harsh in fact.

You seem to be having a go at the whole principle of large museums completely, which is fair enough as a point of view I suppose, but is hardly going to be addressed - or redressed - by any action involving just the contents of their Room 19. And nor is it even a good start at dissolving the collection if it is to be done for purely political reasons.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 13:21

Goodness, I wouldn't quite go as far as recommending dissolution - that kind of thing has caused quite enough trouble in the past - just that a museum is more than just a repository of interesting stuff, it presents an interpretation and, like all interpretations, should be assessed critically. It could be suggested that museums are the final stage of a process that starts at the point of the trowel and that is rarely entirely objective and without any bias, conscious or otherwise. They require as much reflexive scrutiny as any stage in that process.

By owning the artefacts of the past and controlling how they are selected and presented, which are valorised, which less foregrounded and what textual captioning is chosen, any museum has a degree of control of the past and how it should be seen. The BM, with the extent and quality of its collections and the grandeur of the building, cannot but imply an entitlement to display the world, to the world, in the old imperial capital. It's also redolent of the Victorian project to educate the masses - not a bad thing, I agree - and then this presents the problem of compromise over setting the level of the content of the textual information attached. I must admit I haven't been in the BM in donkey's years so I can't comment on this so I'm interested to hear what others think of it.

In a way museums are a bit like cultural zoos and conservation, explication and public spectacle don't always sit comfortably together. Just as it can be argued as to whether it is better to see the animals in the flesh in confinement or in their natural context in a good documentary, and many would plump for the latte; in the BM's intention to use the Marbles in the context of World History is having the real thing really necessary when perfect reproductions or holograms or some such could be just as effective in tracing those connections? Does it being a museum of history as opposed to an art gallery influence the importance of authenticity?
I realise that that argument might be equally applied to Athens but I feel with less validity.


It's complicated.


edit: I have no idea why that has come out with the formatting stuff visible but I'm not typing it all out again!
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Tue 09 Dec 2014, 14:39

To be absolutely fair to the museum in question they have put a huge amount of effort into providing the visitor with as much interpretative information as possible about the items on view - probably more than enough in many cases and in fact physically impossible to absorb in its entirety given the amount of material on display. So yes, while some aspects to how they present their material are impossible to divorce from how they were assembled, how they were chosen as worthy of display and in fact the history of the museum itself, I would contend that the BM has done everything humanly possible to avoid stilted presentation of information, especially for its most popular attractions. That should count for something, especially in the context of the debate we're having here.

ID's picture above would suggest that the info on the placard sums up what the visitor is told about the artefacts in Room 19. Believe me, if you avail of the audio guide and/or the printed literature available you could easily spend a week in the Parthenon display and still have a few sculptures to get through. They are also very up front about the Greek claim for their return. In the early 90s there was even a lady outside the room on one visit I made, seated behind a little card table inviting us all to sign a petition for the return of the Marbles to Athens. I assume views have hardened within the BM since then but I was very impressed with that on the day - she explained that the BM gave them permission to conduct the petition since they were a national museum and therefore obliged to facilitate all points of view regarding the items in their care. Hers (and the petitioners', which included me of course) were simply one more view to express and accommodate.

Personally I feel their use of the "world history context" argument to justify retaining possession of the Elgin purchase is not enough any more either, especially now that the sculptures have a more logical home in the sense of them being artefacts through which the past can be interpreted and their value in terms of global history can be explored and expressed with as much effect as in London (probably more). And as I said before, the museum has many other artefacts from the same period which do that job better anyway - both in terms of Greek and global history.

PS: Fixed your formatting - you can avoid that, I think, if you use the alternative editor on the top right of the reply box. Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Wed 10 Dec 2014, 03:07

This is what is wrong with the sign - one thing is certain, his (Elgin's) actions saved them further damage by vandalism, weathering and pollution. It is nothing more than shoddy justification, it is misleading and so very easily refuted. And for an institution that reserves for itself the right to narrate the history of the sculptures in question it is actually denying one entire section of their history, that of the valdalism done by Elgin himself in their removal, and the further damage, weathering and pollution that occured during Elgin's and subsequently the BM's possession.  

Ferval has summed up fairly well my views on the high handed attitute and actions of the BM, and better than I can ever articulate. The BM, in shouldering for themselves the resposbility of being the custodians of the world's cultural artifacts (and in particular as is the case under discussion) those artifacts whose ownership are under contention, had best make darn sure that they get their facts correct. If they are intent on relating history according to the BM only then they leave themselves open to criticism. And criticise I shall.

There are a couple of things that I take exception with in your rather hysterical reply to my hysterical post Nordmann. Namely, as much as you might like them to be, my criticisms are not 'essentially political' at all. In fact, I've gone out of my way to avoid the politics involed in this even though this current loan to Russia is purely a political move and despite your own desire to drag them into it at every opportunity. Any criticism I've given has been directed at the BM only, no-one or nothing else. Again, unlike yourself who seem intent on tarring a whole nation with the same brush .

And your last rather dubious paragraph, it would indeed be patronising and er horrific if I had said that 'Heritage was attempting to enlightern the Russians etc' but I did NOT say or imply anything of the sort. I was referring to the attitude of the BM, as you must very well know. And the implication that my personal opinions are indicitive of the Greek nation as a whole is as ridiculous as implying that yours are indicitive of Norway or indeed the BM's are that of the people of Britain. Sweepting generalisations of this sort do not make an argument credible, rather the opposite in fact.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Wed 10 Dec 2014, 08:35

But his actions did save them from the damage mentioned - even Greek assessments of the statuary removed to London versus that which stayed in situ have affirmed this. And the BM has published extensive literature outlining the less than perfect methods used by both Elgin and the BM itself in transporting them and preserving them since then. Just as the Athens museum has also published extensive literature outlining the less than perfect methods used in Athens in protecting, preserving and restoring the statuary under its own care. Academics have not traditionally played that particular "blame game" with respect to the Elgin Marbles - this is something that has arisen in the political debate many times, and is often rather hysterically overstated.

And on what basis do you call the loan of an artefact to the Hermitage "purely political"? The BM loans regularly to the Hermitage (and vice versa). Is it just because it is part of their Parthenon collection in this instance that makes it so obviously political to you? Well, maybe it is - though you need to distinguish between you choosing to interpret it politically yourself and an objective examination of the transfer agreement leading one to that conclusion. Your comments and some other rather ill-advised comments from certain Greek politicians are proof that the transfer definitely has had a political effect. This however is not proof that it had a political motive.

I misunderstood your use of "theirs" in your sentence about "enlightening" the Russians. You realise of course that the Hermitage also owns a pretty extensive collection of artefacts related to the Parthenon and Athens of the period, so maybe the temporary addition of one more might not be as much an opportunity to "enlighten" anyone further, but simply one to see a splendid piece of statuary close up by visitors to the Hermitage (which has done a splendid job "enlightening" its visitors for centuries, being one of the oldest state museums in the world). However even if, as I now realise, what you take objection to is the BM loaning an item representing a culture that isn't British, then I can only see a rather gloomy future for the museum business in general should such a strange restriction be placed on how artefacts are shared.

I actually share your concern about an apparent insensitivity on the BM's part in how this loan was arranged and announced, though I can also see why a level of discretion and secrecy applied to the arrangement of the loan given the tendency for others to politicise anything to do with these particular artefacts.

Hysterics aside, and as I said before, the Greek cause would be enhanced considerably if so many claiming to represent it did not keep choosing the wrong targets and the wrong tactics in their public utterances.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Wed 10 Dec 2014, 09:57

Oh come on, international, inter-gallery loans, like orchestral and national theatre tours, are as much about the projection of soft power as cultural magnanimity. The trustees of the BM, like the British Council and others, are at heart arms of government and cost money. Unless the world has changed entirely, the political establishment does not spend hard cash on purely altruistic projects any more than the Chinese distribute free pandas.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Wed 10 Dec 2014, 10:08

@nordmann wrote:
...the Greek cause would be enhanced considerably if so many claiming to represent it did not keep choosing the wrong targets and the wrong tactics in their public utterances.


Absolutely. That is what I was trying to say on the previous page.

Tian Tian lost her baby, didn't she, which was very sad. "We tried," said Edinburgh Zoo. Which sort of sums up this thread really.

Prince William is going to China in February. I hope we get a couple of free pandas out of it - that would be nice.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Wed 10 Dec 2014, 10:46

£500,000 a year Temp, and any babies go back - it's hardly free!
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Wed 10 Dec 2014, 20:38

@ferval wrote:
£500,000 a year Temp, and any babies go back - it's hardly free!


£500,000 a year! Good grief, you could send two pandas to Eton for that.

I'm sorry; I know this is a very serious thread and I am being silly.

It's just that despair has set in - really.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Thu 11 Dec 2014, 16:02

MM wrote:
... all that says to me is that Reshistorica is virtually dead.


Sadly, I think you are right, MM.

The Bloomsberries have done their best, but ...

Oh well. I blame Lord Elgin.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Thu 11 Dec 2014, 18:53

@Temperance wrote:


£500,000 a year! Good grief, you could send two pandas to Eton for that.

I doubt if you would get away with it - the difference between them and the existing denizens would be too acute - though it would undoubtedly raise the average intelligence level quite markedly.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Sun 14 Dec 2014, 18:47

Just a quick comment to say why I've voted Yes.

 It's not worth having hassle with a friendly bunch of people when we could easily create replicas indistinguishable from the originals.

 Of course Stonehenge couldn't be replaced by replicas as any change in the location or composition of the stones could not be corrected by any sort of tin foil hat.
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PostSubject: Re: The Elgin Marbles - a poll   Mon 15 Dec 2014, 05:27

And no wonder the tin foil hatters are..... er unaligned Bren. (Welcome back by the way Smile
Stonehenge just ain't what it used to be.

http://www.thecontroversialfiles.net/2013/05/untold-story-how-they-rebuilt-stonehenge.html
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