A digest of news for 2021 from IARPS

The following is a re-posting of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures news digest edited by Dr Kris Tytgat, President of IARPS.
We have omitted some low resolution images
The IARPS does not have a website. There is a website http://www.parthenoninternational.org/ that is presented as the IARPS website but it is no longer current. It’s administrator has not handed administration rights to the present executive of IARPS. Consequently we are assisting by posting the latest new from IARPS on our blog.

30 September 2021

New UNESCO recommendation and decision on the Parthenon
Sculptures

During its 22 nd session, the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO for
the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin (ICPRCP)
adopted for the first time, not only a Recommendation, which it
routinely adopts on this issue, but also a Decision (Decision 22 COM 17),
exclusively targeted at the issue of the return of the Parthenon
Sculptures.
According to the statement by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and
Sports, “the added value of the decision lies in the fact that the
Commission expresses its strong dissatisfaction with the fact that the
resolution of the issue remains pending due to the position of the United
Kingdom. Furthermore, it urges the United Kingdom to reconsider its
position and enter into a dialogue in good faith with Greece, underlining
emphatically the intergovernmental nature of the dispute.”

UNESCO – ICPRCP

Press Office Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

The Art Newspaper

5 October 2021

The UK rejects UNESCO’s call on British Authorities to reassess their position on the contested Parthenon Marbles

Following the 22nd Session of UNESCO’ ICPRCP at the end of September, the British Government and the British Museum maintain their longstanding position.

A UK government spokesperson said in an email to Artnet News:

“We disagree with the Committee’s decision adopted in the closing minutes of the session and are raising issues relating to fact and procedure with UNESCO. Our position is clear — the Parthenon Sculptures were acquired legally in accordance with the law at the time. The British Museum operates independently of the government and free from political interference. All decisions relating to collections are taken by the Museum’s trustees.”

Source: Artnet News

8 October 2021

« Le conflit entre la Grèce et le British Museum pour la restitution , ou non, des frises du Parthénon, est un cas d’école »

Since nearly 40 years, Athens claims the return of the artefacts taken away by the British Ambassador Lord Elgin in the 19th century. In his “Chronique”, the chief editor at “Le Monde” explains why this dispute is an example of the problems related to restitutions.

Source: Le Monde

9 October 2021

The museum was forced to close on December 16, 2020 when the national Covid-19 lockdown was put in place. It reopened on 17 May 2021, but some of its Greek galleries remained closed due to ‘essential’ repairs.

UNESCO, the Greek Government as well as campaigners for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures have expressed concern about the poor state of the rooms.

The BM comments that it has undertaken a programme of maintenance works in the galleries and that it works towards a reopening later in autumn.

Source: TA NEA (with statements by Dr Kris Tytgat, president of IARPS; Dame Janet Suzman, chair of BCRPM; Prof. Paul Cartledge, vice chair of IARPS and of BCRPM; BM spokesperson)

11 October 2021

Tribute to Evi Touloupa

The late Evi Touloupa

IARPS is deeply saddened by the death of Evi Touloupa, a great archaeologist and researcher, who left us at the age of 97. We express our condolences to the Greek archaeological world, friends and colleagues. She was best known as an Ephor of the Acropolis.

15 October 2021

And so it begins: Germany and Nigeria sign pre-accord on restitution of Benin bronzes

An example to be followed!

The German government and the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments have signed a memorandum of understanding setting out a timetable for the restitution of artefacts looted from the royal palace of Benin in a British military raid in 1897.

Source: The Art Newspaper

11 November 2021

7th International Meeting for the restoration of the Acropolis monuments – 11-13 November 2021

At the opening of the Meeting Dr Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sports confirms that the upgrading and protection of the Acropolis is the constant priority of the Ministry.

The new programmes and restoration works are going to concentrate on the Acropolis walls and the main entrance.

Source: Press office Ministry of Culture and Sports

12 November 2021

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ speech at the UNESCO 75th Anniversary celebration in Paris

Speaking about the Parthenon Sculptures:

There cannot be dialogue between nations, without dialogue amongst cultures. Something which presupposes respect for the history, heritage, and identity of each nation. To my mind that means that emblematic monuments, inherently connected to the very identity of a nation, should be a matter of that nation.

Take the Parthenon Sculptures, which make up a hugely significant piece of the world’s cultural heritage and are perhaps the most important symbolic link between modern Greeks and their ancestors.

Most of that collection can be found on display in the Acropolis museum, a few hundred meters from the Parthenon. That they can be seen in situ, in their birthplace, connected visually to the monument which lends the sculptures their global significance, that really matters.

However, while a part of that collection remains exiled in London that impact can never be fully appreciated. That is why I believe it is essential that the Parthenon marbles in London should be reunited with the majority of the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens.

Last September a pivotal step was taken by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property. For the first time, it unanimously adopted a decision recognising that “the case has an intergovernmental character and, therefore, the obligation to return the Parthenon Sculptures lies squarely on the UK Government”.

The UK should move to a bona fide dialogue with Greece. And I urge them to do so. After all, this year marks the 200th anniversary of Greece’s War of Independence. There could be no better time than now, in which to reunite the missing section of the Parthenon Sculptures – in their birthplace – in Greece.

Source: Primeminister.gr

13 November 2021

PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis to journalist Gordon Rayner in The Telegraph

Our position is clear. The Sculptures were stolen in the 19th cent., they belong to the Acropolis Museum and we have to discuss this issue seriously and sincerely.

Source: Primeminister.gr

15 November 2021

The Parthenon Sculptures and the Greek Revolution

Sophia Hiniadou on the role of the antiquities in the woke of the historical past, the integration in the newly built national memory, but also in the West-European culture.

Source: TA NEA

16 November 2021

Meeting PM Johnson and PM Mitsotakis in London

Prime Minister Mitsotakis raised the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures. Prime Minister Johnson said that he understood the strength of feeling of the Greek people on this issue, but reiterated the UK’s longstanding position that this matter is one for the Trustees of the British Museum. The leaders agreed that this issue in no way affects the strength of the UK-Greece partnership.

Source: Press release GOV.UK; Primeminister.gr

16 November 2021

Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ speech at the inauguration of the “Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom” exhibition, at the Science Museum in London

Greek PM Mitsotakis calls for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures at the inauguration of the exhibition.

Source: Primeminister.gr

16 November 2021

Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ interview on ITV network

“First of all, we want the sculptures back for good. So we will not settle for a loan. But what we can offer is certainly an arrangement where we could offer to the British Museum artifacts and treasures that have never left the country, as part of a rotating collection. So, if there’s a will, I’m sure we can find a solution.

And what better demonstration of “Global Britain”, on the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the war of independence, than Great Britain to make such a generous gesture towards the Greek people”.

Source: Primeminister.gr

18 November 2021

Symposium “Greece and Cultural Heritage”

A side-event of the 4th General Conference of UNESCO, Paris, organised with the support of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation.

Participating were: Rector Hélène Ahrweiler, chair of the French Committee, and Prof. Paul Cartledge, vice chair of IARPS and BCRPM who gave eloquent speech supporting the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures.

Source: UNESCO

20 November 2021

Parthenon Sculptures should return to Greece, the British say in new poll

Two articles published in British newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian directly support arguments for the return of the precious marbles to their home.

A public opinion poll by pollsters YouGov shows that 56 percent of participants stated that the Parthenon Sculptures should be exhibited in Greece, while only 20 percent said they should remain in the United Kingdom, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Source: Greek Reporter

21 November 2021

Ouzo talk Podcast: No excuses left – Time to return the Parthenon Sculptures

Speaking to the Ouzo podcast, founder and chair of the International Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles Inc (IOCARPM), Emmanuel John Comino AM, and committee member Theodora Gianniotis, are of the strong opinion that the British Museum is now clutching at straws, as its outdated arguments have been systematically disproven over time.

Source: Greek City Times

22 November 2021

Ελένη Αρβελέρ: Τα πριόνια του Ελγιν και οι Άγγλοι

The saws of Elgin and the English. Hélène Ahrweiler, chair of the French Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, explains the reasons why the Sculptures of the Parthenon will return one day to Greece.

Source: I Kathimerini

23 November 2021

Parthenon marbles should never have been removed, Boris Johnson wrote

In 2012 letter to Greek official, then London mayor Boris Johnson said that ideally the sculptures would have stayed in Athens.

Source: The Guardian

23 November 2021

Declassified: secret papers reveal UK government’s stance on Parthenon Marbles dispute

Newly released documents from the 1990’s state: “This is an issue on which we can never win”.

Source: The Art Newspaper

24 November 2021

Britain can gain by giving back the Elgin Marbles

“Here’s a win-win solution that might just resolve the dispute between Britain and Greece over the Elgin Marbles. Greece could let the British Museum make a high-quality marble copy not just of the sculptures it has, but of the Parthenon sculptures that are in the Acropolis Museum in Athens. London would give back the originals. That way Greece would have all the originals but the British Museum would have an identical copy”.

Source: The Times

25 November 2021

New momentum for return of Parthenon Marbles

Dame Janet Suzman, chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM): “Sometimes fairy tales come true: I never thought to see the stunning coverage given to the Parthenon Marbles by two leading right-wing newspapers, the Mail and the Telegraph.

But see how one can be so wrongfooted: The Mail quotes Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ eloquent case for the return in full, and the Telegraph offers a huge, unmissable, two-page spread offering the pros and cons of a return”.

Source: Ekathimerini.com

27 November 2021

Η… περιφρόνηση του Βρετανικού Μουσείου

Denis Mc Shane, the British politician for Europe under Tony Blair, tells TA NEA that he had introduced in the beginning of the 2000’s to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece and how just a few days ago the issue was discussed again, a 24 hours before the meeting Mitsotakis – Johnson.

Source: TA NEA

2 December 2021

Meeting Greek Minister of Culture and the Ambassador of the UK

Two weeks after the meeting between PM Mitsotakis  and PM Johnson in London, Dr Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sports, met H.E. Mr Matthew Lodge, Ambassador of the UK in Athens. The issue of the Parthenon Sculptures which are on display in the British Museum figured on the agenda.

Source: The Times

2 December 2021

Meeting Greek Minister of Culture and the Ambassador of the UK

Two weeks after the meeting between PM Mitsotakis  and PM Johnson in London, Dr Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sports, met H.E. Mr Matthew Lodge, Ambassador of the UK in Athens. The issue of the Parthenon Sculptures which are on display in the British Museum figured on the agenda.

Source: The Times

Majestic Acropolis lighting wins international award

Eleftheria Deko, the designer behind the new lighting of the Acropolis won the LIT Lighting Design of the Year Award for 2021.

Source: Greek Reporter

4 December 2021

It’s right to be proud of the British Museum

Sir George Osborne, since October the new Chair of the Trustees of the British Museum, speaks out on the British Museum in an op-ed article in The Times.

Source: The Times

6 December 2021

Suzman and Cartledge answer in TA NEA to Osborne

Dame Janet Suzman, chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM), and Prof. Paul Cartledge, vice chair of IARPS and of the BCRPM, answer to George Osborne’s article in The Times.

Source: TA NEA

6 December 2021

UN adopts Greek proposal for the return of stolen cultural treasures

At its 44th plenary meeting on 6 December 2021, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution titled “Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin” proposed by Greece and supported by an unprecedented 111 countries, without a vote.

Source: UNESCO

12 December 2021

Editorial in The National Herald: The Pros and Cons of the Osborne Article on Sculptures

Antonis H. Diamataris, member of the Board of the Acropolis Museum, evaluating George Osborne’s article It’s right to be proud of the British Museum, published in The Times on December 4.

Source: The National Herald

13 December 2021

Create virtual Elgin Marbles and return real thing, urges Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry, long-time supporter of the return of the so called Elgin Marbles to Athens, has called, once more, for the Marbles to be returned to Greece and replaced in the British Museum with an artificial reality experience. He said that returning them to Athens would be a “classy” gesture by Britain.

Source: The Times

13 December 2021

Reopening of Room 18 in the British Museum !!!

“Please note due to regular maintenance works Rooms 15-18 are temporarily closed. We plan to reopen them on Monday 13 December 2021.”

This message on the website of the British Museum made us eagerly looking forward to the reopening of Room 18 where the Parthenon Sculptures are on display. And not only us! During the 22nd session of the Intergovernmental Commission for the Return of Cultural Property to the Countries of Origin (ICPRCP) at the end of September, UNESCO expressed its concern concerning the ongoing closure of the Duveen Gallery. The gallery was closed for nearly a year and one may wonder why “regular maintenance” takes so much time to make a core collection of the museum accessible again to the public. Cleaning and repairing the leaking roof or taking care of the climatization and humidity problems in the room which were reported in the media at several occasions, were certainly a must.

What ever interventions the British Museum carried out, their collection of Parthenon Sculptures remains a mutilated part of a priceless ensemble. Room 18 can never compete with the transparent Parthenon Gallery on top of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, illuminated by the Attic light, at the foot of the Acropolis, in direct visual contact with the Parthenon. Here the sculptures are, well protected and correctly orientated, on display in their natural environment. Only reunited in the city where they where created for the Parthenon temple, two and a half millennia ago, the Sculptures can tell their complete story and give evidence of the great craftsmanship of Pheidias and its team for the future.

[Kris Tytgat to Y. Andritsopoulos for TA NEA]

Y. Andritsopoulos was reporting in TA NEA on the reopening and collected reactions from campaigners.

Source: Kris Tytgat and TA NEA

15 December 2021

The U.K. has held on to the Parthenon Marbles for centuries – But the tide is turning. Here’s why I expect them to be returned by 2030

In an Op-Ed in the Artnet News Prof. Dan Hicks deploys his arguments for this statement.

Lockdowns have played a significant role in shifting the public’s perception on restitution. Twenty five year ago, in the preface to the 1997 edition of his book The Parthenon Marbles, Christopher Hitchens observed that “those who support the status quo at the British Museum have the great advantage of inertia on their side.” Today, things could hardly be more different. … In his book, The British Museums, Hicks described the 2020’s as a “decade of returns”. This global conversation about restitution increasingly centres on social justice, transparency, the repayment of debts, fairness, as well as a new model of museums in which these spaces are not nostalgic end-points but future oriented, living places. … The potential role of UNESCO in future developments could be very significant. … Nonetheless, in this new cultural, internationalist, and intellectual atmosphere, it’s hard to believe that the Parthenon Marbles won’t have been reunited in Athens by the end of the decade.

Source: Artnet News

18 December 2021

Revealed: Parthenon Marbles were pillaged and should be returned to Greece, Boris Johnson argued as student

Yannis Andritsopoulos unearths in the Greek newspaper TA NEA an article written by Boris Johnson as a university student. The PM argued at that time that the Parthenon Marbles had been illegally removed from the temple and urged the British Government to return the artefacts to Greece. This is a complete reversal of the position he holds today.

The issue was picked up by the international press and in the UK.

Sources: TA NEA, English Version and The Telegraph

20 December 2021

The New York Times: As Europe returns artifacts, Britain stays silent

Alex Marshall gives a clear overview from the 1980’s until today of the steadfast position of the British Government and the British Museum on the issue of the Parthenon marbles, something that looks increasingly out of step in comparison to the restitution policies of other European countries these last years, he writes. He looks at the different opinions of politicians, lawmakers, activists and the Greek authorities.

Source: The New York Times

21 December 2021

Kris Tytgat: Boris Johnson showed the way for the return the Parthenon Sculptures

It is heart-warming to read that, once upon a time, as the Greek newspaper TA NEA discovered last Saturday, PM Johnson was an eloquent and convinced supporter of the return to Athens of the Parthenon Sculptures on display in the British Museum. A sin of youth? He changed his opinion drastically afterwards and he is entitled to do so, if he finds valuable reasons for it. What about his statement, however, that the Sculptures were illegally acquired? That is a fact! The reasons he evoked in 1986 why the UK has to return the Sculptures to Athens, are still valuable, and even more: a reunification of all the surviving parts of the Sculptures in the Acropolis Museum will be an unparalleled achievement in the history of protection of cultural heritage. PM Johnson also pointed out the way for the return: an Act of Parliament that can be passed in one afternoon. What are we still waiting for?

Source: TA NEA [Translated into in Greek by Y. Andritsopoulos, TA NEA]

21 December 2021

Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece, former UK culture minister says

More and more often we see that eminent personalities of British public life support the case of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, and even urge PM Boris Johnson to do the right thing: returning the Sculptures.

In a podcast interview, Ed Vaizey, the Conservative minister for culture from 2010 to 2016, said that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece. “The debate has really moved on. I think I would support the return of the marbles now. Having said that, it is extremely hard to know where to draw the line”. Vaizey outlined why the restitution debate is so intense and complex, highlighting the arguments that are played out whenever the issue of returning the ancient artefacts arises.

Source: The Art Newspaper

1 November 2021 – 1 March 2022

Acropolis Remix │ Embraces: Utopian Proximities (2021)

Acropolis Remix Pavilion at The Wrong Biennale 5.

Prof. Celina Lage, Vice-President of the Brazilian Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, is one of the curators of this exhibition. The Acropolis Remix shows video art, video performance, animation, video dance, and video poetry, addressing in a creative and poetic way possible and impossible proximities between bodies, which can be human, natural, material or artificial, imagined and digitally conceived.

The conceptual guiding thread and reference for the exhibition are the sculptures of embraces present on the east and west pediments of the Parthenon, on the Athenian Acropolis. Acropolis Remix proposes a remix of the diachronic cultural landscape of the Acropolis, a space disputed throughout history and in constant construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction, thus establishing dialogues with the issues of the current world, enabling multiple reinterpretations.

The exhibition Embraces: Utopian Proximities proposes, in a positive way, embraces as a reestablishment of relationships in an utopian plane. Examples of these proximities are, on the one hand, fragments of the Parthenon sculptures which are in the British Museum waiting to be reunited again in Athens in the new Acropolis Museum and, on the other hand, the contemporary utopias of embraces around common causes, such as the dreamed embrace between Israelis and Palestinians for the end of the war.

Source: Website Acropolis Remix

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