After insisting it was the safest place to keep the Parthenon Marbles stolen from Greece by a Scottish diplomat almost 200 years ago, officials at the British Museum had to scramble to maintain that water from a leaking glass roof didn’t damage them.
The stolen goods are kept in the Duveen Gallery and water collected next to the famed sculptures, the Greek TV station SKAI reported, with museum officials said to have put down paper and plastic signs to advise visitors to steer clear.
According to a video published by SKAI, most of the water was behind the figure of Iris but there were no reports the invaluable stones were affected.
Asked about the state of the gallery and on the safety of the Greek sculptures, the British Museum said in a written statement: “There was a small incident during a recent very heavy rainfall when a small amount of water entered the gallery. None of the sculptures have been damaged and the issue has been addressed.”
“We take the responsibilities of caring for our collection very seriously, the preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance to the British Museum,” the statement added.
Officials there had said that Greece didn’t have a suitable place to keep its own treasures but after the new Acropolis Museum was opened with 2009, with a room designed to show off the marbles and give a view to the Acropolis outside, the British Museum shifted to using other arguments to defend keeping them.
Earlier this month, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said there’s increasing support internationally for the British Museum to return the Marbles despite years of refusal and with officials there saying the treasures now belong to them and not Greece.
During a visit to the Acropolis Museum, which opened with 2009 and was designed to house the Marbles if they are ever returned, he noted a piece in the London Sunday Times by a Deputy Editor, Sarah Baxter, who joined the chorus of those who said they should be returned.
He said, “A major goal, of key national importance, namely the return of the Marbles … is gaining increasing international support,” without noting that’s been the case for years and hasn’t led to any chance of the marbles return.
He added that the increased backing for the Greek government’s aim to secure the sculptures “should not lead to complacency on our part.” “On the contrary, it increases our obligations,” he said.
Ironically, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the Marbles don’t belong to Greece but to the world and that it’s not willing to go to court to try to get them back, letting the stolen goods still stay in London.