The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is an association of various national committees with the shared goal of "The reunification of all the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens"
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Letter to the Prime Minister

David Hill, chair of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, has recently written to Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, to appraise him on the organisation's views on the issue.
 
Copies of this letter were also sent to members of his Cabinet, Members of the Culture Media & Sport Select Committee & to other relevant politicians. 
 
12 November 2007
 
Rt Hon Gordon Brown
Prime Minister
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
UNITED KINGDOM

Dear Prime Minister
 
I am writing to appraise you of the widespread and growing support around the world for the Parthenon sculptures currently held in the British Museum to be returned to Greece.
There are now committees in 14 countries that have been formed solely for the purpose of promoting the return of the sculptures that were taken by Lord Elgin from Athens in the early 1800’s. In 2005 the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures was formed and now has members from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Spain and the United States of America.
 
In recent years a number of world leaders have publicly stated their support for the return of the sculptures, including the then President of the United States of America, the President of Russia and the Premier of China. The Prime Ministers, leaders and parliaments of a number of Commonwealth countries have also registered their support, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as have a number of European countries.
We note that the attitude of the British public is now similar to world opinion on this issue. Over the past ten years a variety of public opinion polls and surveys in Britain have indicated a strong and growing majority of people also support the return of the sculptures.
 
We believe the completion of the magnificent new Acropolis Museum in Athens now provides an excellent opportunity for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned. The museum has been designed to allow all of the surviving sculptures that are currently split between London and Athens to be reunited and presented in their original positions and configuration. This is not possible in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum where the restricted space does not allow the collection to be properly exhibited – and where fewer people actually see the exhibits than now visit the Acropolis in Athens each year.
 
The current British Museum argument that different pieces of the Parthenon sculptures should be seen in a variety of different museums means that the head of a sculptured piece might be seen in one place, while the arms, or legs, or body of the same piece might be seen in another. This strange policy is totally at odds with the advice given to a House of Commons inquiry in June 2000 when the British Museum argued that ideally the Parthenon collection should be rejoined.
 
By not agreeing to return the sculptures the British Museum is increasingly out of step with modern museum practice around the world. No one would argue that all the objects in museums should be repatriated to their country of origin but there is now almost universal acceptance of the principle that items of special significance should be returned. In 1997 a poll of members of the British Museums Association revealed that 97% of their members supported the repatriation of cultural property in certain circumstances.
 
 The British Government should be commended for having recently initiated the return of indigenous human remains to their original communities. We now look to the British Government to take the initiative to ensure the wonderful Parthenon sculptures are returned to Athens where they can be best exhibited for the benefit of all humanity. Such action by the British Government on this issue would send a strong message of moral leadership to the world.
 
The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures would be prepared to provide any assistance in facilitating a positive solution in this matter and I would be happy to meet and discuss this issue with you further.

Yours sincerely
 
David Hill
Chairman

Letter to the Tustees of the British Museum

David Hill, chair of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, has recently written to the trustees of the British Museum, to appraise them on the organisation's views on the issue.
 
 
4 November 2007

Baroness Kennedy
Trustee
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

Dear Baroness Kennedy

I am writing to appraise you of the widespread and growing support around the world for the Parthenon sculptures currently held in the British Museum to be returned to Greece.

There are now committees in 14 countries that have been formed solely for the purpose of promoting the return of the sculptures that were taken by Lord Elgin from Athens in the early 1800’s. In 2005 the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures was formed and now has members from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Spain and the United States of America.

In recent years a number of world leaders have publicly stated their support for the return of the sculptures, including the then President of the United States of America, the President of Russia and the Premier of China. The Prime Ministers, leaders and parliaments of a number of Commonwealth countries have also registered their support, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as have a number of European countries.

We note that the attitude of the British public is now similar to world opinion on this issue. Over the past ten years a variety of public opinion polls and surveys in Britain have indicated a strong and growing majority of people also support the return of the sculptures.

We believe the completion of the magnificent new Acropolis Museum in Athens now provides an excellent opportunity for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned. The museum has been designed to allow all of the surviving sculptures that are currently split between London and Athens to be reunited and presented in their original positions and configuration. This is not possible in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum where the restricted space does not allow the collection to be properly exhibited – and where fewer people actually see the exhibits than now visit the Acropolis in Athens each year.

The current British Museum argument that different pieces of the Parthenon sculptures should be seen in a variety of different museums means that the head of a sculptured piece might be seen in one place, while the arms, or legs, or body of the same piece might be seen in another. This strange policy is totally at odds with the advice given to a House of Commons inquiry in June 2000 when the British Museum argued that ideally the Parthenon collection should be rejoined.

By not agreeing to return the sculptures the British Museum is increasingly out of step with modern museum practice around the world. No one would argue that all the objects in museums should be repatriated to their country of origin but there is now almost universal acceptance of the principle that items of special significance should be returned. In 1997 a poll of members of the British Museums Association revealed that 97% of their members supported the repatriation of cultural property in certain circumstances.

The British Museum should be commended for recently agreeing to return indigenous human remains to their original communities. We now look to the museum to take the initiative to ensure the wonderful Parthenon sculptures are returned to Athens where all they can be best exhibited for the maximum benefit of all humanity.

We would be happy to meet and discuss this issue with you.

Yours sincerely

David Hill
Chairman

Why the marbles now need to be returned

An article in the Sydney University Museum's News, by David Hill, chair of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

 

Give us your marbles


By David Hill, Chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the
Parthenon Sculptures

Later this year Athens will see the opening of the magnificent new Acropolis Museum, arguably one of the most significant buildings to be built in the city for the past two thousand years. The Museum, which is located below the south east corner of the Acropolis, will house all the surviving ancient artifacts from the Acropolis - including the sculptures of the Parthenon.

It has been designed to house the sculptures on the top floor and these sculptures will be presented in exactly the same configuration and position as they sat on the Parthenon. The Temple itself can be seen from the Museum, through vast glass windows, across the Acropolis.

About half the surviving 200-odd pieces of marble sculptures from the Parthenon are in the British Museum, having been stripped from the temple by the staff of Lord Elgin, who was the British Ambassador to the region around 1800. Elgin had intended the sculptures to adorn his family estate in Scotland but in 1816, when facing severe financial problems, he sold the collection to the British Government. The Government passed them on to the British Museum.

Most of the other surviving sculptures are still in Athens, although a few smaller pieces and fragments are held in a variety of European museums, including those in Paris, Copenhagen, Vienna, Palermo, Munich, Strasburg and the Vatican. A small fragment from the Parthenon frieze was returned to Athens by the Heidelberg Museum last year.

Elgin took the sculptures that were in the best condition, leaving those that had been ravaged by time and events. He also left the entire sculptured west frieze, because the Temple’s heavy marble superstructure was still intact at this end of the building and too difficult to move. To remove much of the marble frieze, Elgin used special saws to cut them from the building and in doing so permanently destroyed much of the building’s structure.

In some cases Elgin took part of a statue piece, leaving the other half in Athens. The shoulders and breast of the magnificent, twice-life-size statue of the god Poseidon from the west pediment of the Parthenon is in the British Museum; the lower part of the torso remains in Athens.

The Parthenon sculptures are among the world’s finest surviving ancient art works. Built in the middle of the 5th century BC, the Parthenon is unique in a number of respects and represents a pinnacle of human achievement. It is also symbolic of the great cultural achievements of the time; in art, architecture, science, mathematics, theatre, philosophy and democracy.

It was the most decorated of all ancient Greek temples. Around the outside and on all four sides there were a total of 92 sculptured panels, or metopes, depicting a number of scenes reflecting the struggle of good over evil. It was the only ancient Greek temple with sculptured metopes on all four sides of the building. On the architrave inside the building sat the magnificent frieze that ran for 160 metres around all four walls, depicting a procession that culminates with the twelve Olympian gods seated on the sacred east end of the building.

In the triangular pediments at each end of the building were about 40 statues-in-the- round. At the centre of the east end was depicted the birth of Athena springing from the head of Zeus. At the western end the centre depicted a struggle between Athena and Poseidon for control of Attica.

The Greek Government and many supporters around the world have been calling for Britain to return the Elgin Collection so that the entire surviving work can be reunited in its original setting to allow the original narrative to be appreciated.

By not agreeing to return the sculptures Britain is increasingly out of step with modern museum practice around the world. No one would argue that all the objects in museums should be returned to their country of origin but there is now almost universal acceptance of the principle that items of special significance should be repatriated. In 1997 a survey of the British Museums Association revealed that 97 per cent of their members supported the principle of repatriating cultural property in certain circumstances.

The British Museum has no reasonable grounds for retaining the collection. On their website they say that the British Museum is a ‘universal’ museum and that in London more people are able to see the collection. However, less than one million people a year now visit the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum to see the Parthenon sculptures, less than half the number that visit the Acropolis in Athens. With the opening of the new Acropolis museum we can expect the number of visitors to further increase.

Throughout Britain and around the world there has been growing support for the return of the Parthenon sculptures. Surveys of public opinion in Britain in recent times have consistently demonstrated overwhelming support for their return and the parliaments and political leaders of many nations, including USA, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Turkey and a number of European countries have joined the call for Britain to return the marbles.

The British Government should be commended for having initiated the return of the Nazi’s stolen artwork to their original owners, and more recently the return of aboriginal human remains to their original communities. We now look to the British to right one of history’s great wrongs and return the wonderful Parthenon sculptures to their home.

 

You can read the original article & other coverage of the subject here.

Chair of International Association meets new Greek Culture Minister

David Hill, chair of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has met with the new Greek Culture Minister to discuss the issue.

 

Liapis meets chairman of 'Parthenon Int'l'

Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Friday morning met the chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures David Hill, who told reporters he had been impressed by the new Acropolis Museum that is now nearing completion and the high priority given by Liapis to the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

According to Liapis, the transfer of the sculptures currently held in the old museum on the Acropolis citadel to the new Acropolis Museum created a new hopeful, prospect regarding the return of the sculptures now held by the British Museum in London, while stressing that this was "a lasting historic debt".

 

You can read the original article on the Athens News Agency's website

 

Time for Britain to face up to the Parthenon Sculptures issue

Dennis Menos, Secretary to the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has written a piece for their recently published newsletter, about why now is the time for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned.
Editorial
IT IS TIME FOR BRITAIN TO FACE UP TO THE PARTHENON SCULPTURES ISSUE
By Dennis Menos
Two hundred years ago, Lord Elgin, then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, removed over ninety large sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens and had them shipped to London. He did so, he explained later…to “rescue” the sculptures from certain destruction by Ottomans, abuse by visiting tourists, and French art thieves.
Nothing is gained by belaboring Lord Elgin’s motives. As a result of his actions, some of the world’s most beautiful art -- sculptures unique in their beauty and originality and crafted in the 5th Century BC by the master sculptor Phidias -- are now in London. At the British Museum, where they do not belong.
Justifiably, the people of Greece and millions worldwide favor the sculptures’ return to Athens where a new, state of the art museum is being readied to receive them. The new museum, with its dedicated Parthenon Gallery in full view of the old temple, offers the ideal venue for reunifying the sculptures now in London with those that Lord Elgin left behind in Athens.
Considering the events that led to the sculptures being in London, and the fact that Greece is today a stable, thriving European democracy, is it not time for the British Government and Museum to face up to the Parthenon Sculptures issue and do what is right? To take note of the worldwide demand for the sculptures’ return to Greece and finally end the 200 year-old dispute?
Through the years, Greece and supporters of reunification worldwide have repeatedly communicated to the Government of Great Britain their desire for the sculptures’ return -- only to be rebuffed again and again by stale excuses and arguments emanating from the British Museum. The world is familiar with these arguments and frankly does not find them very convincing: the British Museum is not the ideal venue for the sculptures, despite its repeated claims to that effect, and neither are the provisions of the British Museum Act of 1963, which
restrict the British Museum’s ability to respond to the sculptures’ repatriation, sacrosanct. Parliament set these provisions in force and Parliament can remove them.
Too much time has already been wasted debating the stale arguments advanced by the British Museum. The time has come for the British Government to face up to the facts. To admit openly that the Parthenon Sculptures do not really belong in London and that, as an important part of the cultural heritage of the people of Greece and of western civilization they need to be returned to Athens.
The position of the government of Great Britain on this issue is particularly puzzling, because it concerns a dispute with an old friend. Friends resolve their differences, especially, when there are wrongs that need to be corrected. Since gaining its independence in 1821, Greece has been an ally of Great Britain in peace and war. English blood was shed on Greek soil during two World Wars. Both nations are members of NATO and of the European Union. Thousands of young Greek men and women pursue their academic studies in British universities, while millions of Britons visit Greece every year to admire its cultural gifts to the world and enjoy the warm hospitality of its people.
The time for the British Government and Museum to do what is right is now. A brand new museum on the foothills of the Acropolis stands ready to receive
the Parthenon Sculptures. The world expects an early equitable resolution of this dispute.