Brexit may just hold the key to gaining back the Parthenon Marbles, according to The Guardian columnist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett who wrote the article “Brexit Chisels Away Any Right Britain had to the Parthenon Marbles.”
Cosslett says once Britain leaves the EU it “should finally have the decency to return Greece’s plundered heritage, which resides in a gloomy room in the British Museum,” to Greece, where the “remaining Parthenon Marbles are bathed in sunlight and overlooked by the temple that was their original site.”
Cosslett also notes that only 23 percent of Brits, particularly among the young wanted to keep the sculptures, unlike the “Greeks (who) continue to care deeply about them”.
Here is an excerpt from the piece in The Guardian newspaper-
“The Acropolis Museum in Athens is an architectural marvel that has rightly won awards. The way the remaining Parthenon marbles are bathed in sunlight and overlooked by the temple that was their original site is profoundly beautiful. But what I found most affecting when I visited last week was the deliberate absences in the exhibits – spaces pointedly left blank for the day when, Greeks hope, the rest of the sculptures that were carved by Phidias and his assistants circa 447–438BC will be returned.
Many readers will no doubt be aware that many of these priceless sculptures, once better known as the Elgin Marbles, reside in a gloomy room in the British Museum, having been torn from the Parthenon in the early 1800s by Lord Elgin. It is a subject of great controversy, but one that most Britons, especially those who are young and not of an imperialistic bent, struggle to care about. When polled in 2014 by YouGov, only 23% of British people wanted to keep them.
In contrast, Greeks continue to care deeply, and Brexit has provided an opportunity for their government to exercise some pressure. After all, the UK government will need approval from all EU member states if a Brexit deal is reached. Rather cannily, Greece’s culture minister, Lydia Koniordou, this month sent a letter to Jeremy Wright, our culture secretary, requesting the opening of negotiations regarding the marbles.
One of the arguments most frequently made against returning the marbles is that the British Museum is a museum for the world hosting global treasure. By comparison, the one in Athens is insultingly portrayed as simply a national museum – despite the millions of tourists who visit the cradle of western civilisation every year. But to my mind Brexit makes such an argument totally redundant.
Can the British Museum really lay claim to being a museum for the world when the British government has jettisoned freedom of movement in its Brexit negotiations? I think not. Send the Parthenon marbles back to Athens, and they are free to be viewed by any of the citizens of the European Union who should choose to travel there, free from restrictions.”
You can read the full article here.