New research by the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, using Freedom of Information provisions, has found that the British Museum holds 108,184 Greek artefacts, of which only 6,493 are even on display.
The Discovery of this enormous cache of ancient Greek artefacts has prompted notable supporters to write to British Museum funders and sponsors, raising the repeated failure of the institution to engage in discussion about the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.
The British Museum generated £20,552,598 from foundations and £5,600,311 from its two corporate arms in 2020/21. With Museum finances under continued strain from reduced visitor numbers during the pandemic, this new front may prove significant in any long-term prospects for reunifying the marbles.
“The continued failure of the leadership of the British Museum to engage with the seriousness of the discussion about the return of the Parthenon Marbles, or to participate in proffered UNESCO mediation, reflects increasingly badly on the institution.
It’s clear philanthropic and corporate sponsors, along with ordinary members and supporters of the British Museum like us, are waking up to how this failure reflects on us as well.”
“It’s shocking to think that over 100,000 Greek artefacts lie in British Museum vaults not even on display.
While the British Museum plays an important archival role, these new findings cast the British Museum's point-blank refusal to countenance the return of the only set of artefacts ever requested for reunification - the Parthenon Marbles - in an increasingly poor light.
With row upon row of ancient Greek artefacts stored in underground vaults, not even in the public eye, fears that reunifying the greatest work of classic antiquity would somehow “empty” the British Museum are absurd. It’s time the British Museum wake up to its responsibility to reunify one of the greatest works of classical antiquity and engage in mediation with greater seriousness.” Janet Suzman, Chair and Paul Cartledge, Vice-Chair of BCRPM.