UK rules out returning Parthenon sculptures to Greece

Reino Unido descarta devolução de esculturas do Pártenon à Grécia

The UK government today ruled out returning the Parthenon friezes, on display at the British Museum in London, to Greece, in reaction to media reports that a deal was being finalised.
"I was very clear about this, I don't think they [the friezes] should return to Greece", defended the British Minister of Culture, Michele Donelan, in statements to the BBC station. The person responsible for the Culture portfolio added that the president of the British Museum, George Osborne, will also be in agreement with the intention not to return the sculptures and that these "actually belong to the United Kingdom". Since the beginning of the 20th century, Greece has officially requested the return of a 75-metre frieze detached from the Parthenon, as well as one of the famous caryatids from the Erechtheion, a small ancient temple also on the Acropolis, masterpieces now in the British Museum. The sculptures form part of a 160 meter long frieze that ran around the outer walls of the Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis, dedicated to Athena. Much of the monument was lost in a 17th-century bombardment, and about half of the remaining works were removed in the early 19th century by a British diplomat, Lord Elgin.

Parthenon | Magazine | P55.ART

The Parthenon was built between 447-432 BC and is considered the crown of classical architecture. The frieze depicted a procession in honor of Athena. Some small pieces of that frieze - and other Parthenon sculptures - can be found in other European museums.
London claims the sculptures were "legally acquired" in 1802 by the British diplomat, who sold them to the British Museum. But Athens claims these were the subject of "looting" while the country was under Ottoman occupation. On January 4, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported that the president of the museum was in the process of closing an agreement with Athens for the return of these treasures to Greece, as part of a long-term loan, a "cultural exchange", the that would circumvent a British law that prevented the London museum from dismantling its collection.

Parthenon | Magazine | P55.ART

"I consider that [George Osborne's] perspective on the subject has been misinterpreted and misrepresented. This is not his intention and he has no desire to do so", assured the minister. "The idea for a 100-year loan also came up, but that's certainly not what he's planning either", he stressed. The minister said she feared that the return of these sculptures would open "Pandora's box". In recent years, pressure has increased on Western museums to return works, especially obtained during the colonial period, to their countries of origin.

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