The Parthenon Project is aiming to reunify the Parthenon Sculptures (also known as the Elgin Marbles) currently on permanent display in the British Museum with the other remaining originals in their home city of Athens where Phidias created them. Our approach is to be forward-looking and to realise a win-win solution to their reunification that will be mutually beneficial to both Greece and a global Britain.
Our win-win vision
The case for a mutually beneficial reunification agreement has never been stronger amongst UK stakeholders. As the Chair of the British Museum George Osborne himself recently said, there is a “deal to be done”.
For this deal to be achieved, we believe it should be based on the following principles:
The British Museum should continue to have a world-leading collection of ancient Greek artefacts
The British Museum is a “museum of the world” and Ancient Greek artefacts have an important role to play. We propose a cultural partnership that would include rotating exhibits of significant artefacts yet unseen in London. An agreement could be reached whereby a new exhibition would be staged every few months in the gallery where the Parthenon sculptures are currently displayed. These would induce fresh interest each time a new visiting collection is announced. The first could be of Mycenaeans artefacts, the next from Classical Greece, then an exhibition on Philip II and Alexander the Great, another on the Hellenistic world, the next of Greek culture in the east and so on.
The Acropolis Museum becomes the permanent home of the entire reunified collection
The Parthenon Sculptures is a single piece of art which is currently exhibited in a fragmented state. Their reunification in Athens would allow this magnificent work of art to be appreciated as it was intended.
A cultural partnership is established between the UK and Greece
This would allow the British and Acropolis museums, and British and Greek academics to have unlimited access to the artefacts for educational and research purposes. Such a partnership could be extended to museums across Britain, providing more visitors with the opportunity to engage with these artefacts.
Technology must be harnessed for educational purposes
Early castings of the sculptures made before the originals were damaged offer an opportunity to use the latest technological advances to create facsimiles, increasing their artistic and educational value. This process could be funded through philanthropic causes that support the preservation of ancient artefacts, including by leading technology companies.
The British Museum Act 1963 should be reviewed
An amendment to the Act would empower the museum trustees to determine how they manage their collections and project the museum across the world.
A “joint venture” between the British and Acropolis museums should be established
On a foundation of mutual respect and goodwill, the two museums should develop a working partnership to deliver an agreement that properly addresses the moral and legal issues, while fulfilling the aspirations of each party.
A collection of the Parthenon Sculptures was brought to the UK between 1801 and 1812 by Lord Elgin and are now housed in the British Museum in London. Since the early 1980s, when the first formal request was made for the permanent return to Greece of the sculptures, there has been a public debate about where they rightly belong.
A deal to be done
The Chair of the British Museum recently publicly confirmed that there is a deal to be done between the British Museum and Greece. This follows on from the Strategic Bilateral Framework signed by the UK and Greece in November 2021 to strengthen cooperation across the breadth of the UK-Greece relationship.
A mass of support
There is a groundswell of support and increased awareness amongst the British public, illustrated through public polling and media sentiment in most national newspapers.
Global stage, new relationship
As Britain plots a new path on the global stage, bilateral relationships are increasingly crucial. Britain can forge a new relationship with Greece through the reunification of the sculptures, resolving this long-standing issue instead of allowing it to obstruct essential dialogue between the two countries.
The British Museum and other museums in the UK are world-leading in their approach to protecting and harnessing some of the world’s finest historical artefacts. This win-win solution to the centuries-old Parthenon challenge has led to growing interest in the opportunity for British museums across the UK to exhibit important Greek artefacts that have never been seen before, as part of mutually beneficial cultural exchanges.
Featured In The Sunday Times
Renowned journalist Sarah Baxter recently joined us in Athens to find out more about the Parthenon Project’s campaign and win-win solution.
Here’s her exclusive report on our vision for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures and why the British Museum are ready to make a deal:
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The Parthenon Project is led and finance by members of the Lefas family.