The British Museum is not the legal owner of the Parthenon Marbles and therefore the long-running dispute with Greece over their fate could only be resolved with their unconditional repatriation and not with a lending plan, the director of the Acropolis Museum, Dimitrios Pandermalis, reportedly told German public radio on Wednesday.
“The full return of the Parthenon Marbles is the only solution. Everything that is inextricably linked to the monument must be reunited,” he was quoted as telling Deutschlandfunk, adding that the sculptures exhibited in London form an integral part of the monument.
He also said his museum would gladly offer something to the British Museum in exchange for the marbles’ return, without going into details.
Pantermalis was responding to Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum, who dismissed the possibility of returning them to Greece, arguing that their exhibition in London is in “a context of world cultures.”
“The Trustees of the British Museum feel the obligation to preserve the collection in its entirety, so that things that are part of this collection remain part of this collection,” he was quoted as telling Greek daily Ta Nea in an interview published on January 26.
Asked if that is the reason why the Museum will not permanently return the Sculptures, he replied: “Yes”.
In another part of the same interview he said they are “in the fiduciary ownership of the Trustees of the Museum.”
Fischer also said that the removal of the marbles from Greece in the 19th century could be seen as “a creative act.”
The sculptures are the work of great Athenian sculptor Phidias who added them to the Parthenon in the fifth century BC. In the early 19th century, men working for the 7th Earl of Elgin dismantled a large part of the frieze and shipped the sculptures back to London.