LONDON – Demands are growing for the British Museum to return to Greece the Parthenon Marbles stolen 200 years earlier, this time from a group of demonstrators inside the institution in London.
They included English author and honorary Greek citizen Victoria Hislop, whose books are set in Greece, the protesters unfurling a flag calling for the stolen goods to be reunited with those in Athens.
They presented a cake with candles representing the 13 years since the inauguration of the Acropolis Museum in Athens and blew them out, Greece opening a facility with a top glass-walled floor saved to show the marbles if they are ever returned.
After British Museum officials said they marbles don’t belong to Greece and would never be returned, the head of the institution said they could be shared with Greece in a collaboration – but wouldn’t belong to Greece.
Six Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom also joined the call for the return, said the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, including Labour MP Shami Chakrabarti who said now was the best time for their return.
Another, SNP MP Dave Doogan said that the British Museum keeping the stolen goods was an insult to Greece although they said if they return them that the museum it would set a precedent to return other goods plundred by the British of former colonies or also stolen for show.
“We must explain that the return of the marbles is exceptional and would not constitute a precedent for…the return of other works of art,” said Doogan, although that argument has long been rejected by the British officials.
Even after the Acropolis Museum was inaugurated, in 2009, the UK government and the British Museum Trustees have argued against the marbles’ restitution.
“The Acropolis Museum allows the Parthenon sculptures that are in Athens to be appreciated against the backdrop of ancient Greek and Athenian history. This display does not alter the Trustees’ view that the sculptures are part of everyone’s shared heritage and transcend cultural boundaries. The Trustees remain convinced that the current division allows different and complementary stories to be told about the surviving sculptures, highlighting their significance for world culture and affirming the universal legacy of ancient Greece,” the Trustees said time and again.