Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lord Elgin was a hero who saved the marbles for the world

In a lengthy and closely-argued text, Dominic Selwood explains why he thinks: 'Amal Clooney should back off. Lord Elgin was a hero who saved the marbles for the world', Telegraph October 21st, 2014.

If the Greek government is about to launch a new media PR campaign for the return of the marbles, it is time to put aside the wilful misinformation and cheap innuendo that masks the genuine debt that everyone — most especially Greece — owes to Lord Elgin. The world needs to stop whipping him, and start thanking him for his Herculean efforts, contra mundum, in saving these wonderful sculptures for everyone.
... and if he was a heritage hero, does that mean they should never go back? Why?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Return of Parthenon Marbles Would 'Ruin' Museums, Warns Historian

Sir John Boardman, emeritus Oxford professor of classical archaeology and art, warns that an attempt by Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s new wife, to help secure the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece could result in an "appalling precedent", resulting in museums worldwide "having to give up artefacts they had held for decades".
Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s new wife, are flying to Athens next week for a three-day visit to hold a series of talks with figures including Antonis Samaras, the country’s prime minister, and Konstantinos Tasoulas, the culture minister.[...] Sir John said the move could threaten other items in the British Museum as well as the Louvre, which is “packed” with artifacts from Turkey, and museums in Berlin which also hold items from Turkey. “You would get all mixed up with nationalities and who owned what when,” he said.
Well, fancy that, the colonialists having to think about who owns the stuff they've walked off with.

Edward Malnick, 'Return of Elgin (sic) Marbles would 'ruin' museums, warns leading historian', Telegraph 10 Oct 2014.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Atwood on the Head of Olokun

Head of Olokun
Roger Atwood writes on a lost, and perhaps now found, ancient Nigerian masterpiece, the Head of Olokun
see also Martin Bailey, 'Is the Olokun Head the real thing?', Art Newspaper Issue 213, May 2010: 04 May 2010

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Problems Surrounding Return of Human Remains

A UN conference has called for an intensified effort to achieve the repatriation of Indigenous ceremonial objects and human remains being held in foreign museums and other institutions. This is a key outcome of the inaugural World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that has just ended at UN headquarters in New York. The article focuses on Australian aboriginal remains and objects
Many European museums and galleries have held Australian Indigenous remains without even looking at them for decades [...] it was only when Indigenous communities began asking for the remains be returned, that their scientific value was suddenly deemed paramount. "Most collections that have been assembled overseas have never really been studied. That's the irony anyway. It's the irony from [the point of view of] anthropology. It might not actually be from the Aboriginal point of view. I can accept that. But often when institutions in Europe have been asked to return remains, they say, 'But these haven't been studied.' They've only had them [for] a hundred years and they've still not studied them and all of a sudden they've found that they're very valuable. Now, they're reluctant to give them back because now they want to study them."
Over the years, Australia has emerged as a global leader in the repatriation of Indigenous remains.
 Kristina Kukolja, 'UN conference calls for return of Indigenous remains', World News Radio 1 Oct 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Iznik Tile Panel in Louvre

Turkey, stolen heritage: Iznik tile panel: Stolen by a dentist, replaced with fakes, now in Louvre Museum.

"In 1892, a French dentist then living in Istanbul, Albert Sorlin Dorigny, somehow got permission from the Sultan to restore various tiles in Istanbul. In context of this process, one of the panels was taken to France by Dorigny and he brought fakes to Istanbul. In other words, Dorigny stole original 60 tiles and replaced them with the fakes. Now in 21th century, although truth revealed and this theft case has been enlightened, famous Louvre Museum still holds these stolen objects captivated. We want captivated cultural objects return to their homes".
See related stories too.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Repatriation claims by Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom

There is an opinion-piece by Fredrick Nsibambi ('Should Britain return the artifacts allegedly stolen from Bunyoro in the 1890s?', New Vision (Uganda daily) Aug 27, 2014) about repatriation claims by Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom (Uganda) demanding for the return of artefacts allegedly stolen by the British colonial masters.
One of the key objects in question is the 9-legged royal stool/throne on which all current King of Bunyoro’s predecessors sat, up to King Kabalega, who was exiled by the British for resisting colonialism in 1899. The royal throne is currently kept at Oxford in Pitt Rivers Museum in England. According to some people, the current King was not properly installed because he did not sit on the same throne as his predecessors. Therefore, there is a general belief that the return of the missing throne would be a significant political victory for not only in what was once the greatest and richest kingdom but also for Africa as a continent. Besides the stool, Bunyoro says that during the colonial era, almost 300 artefacts were taken – with or without her consent. The kingdom's current Monarch, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, has spent the better part of his reign campaigning for their return. The kingdom has taken legal action against the British government for theft and destruction of property.
He presents the pros and cons of return, mainly using the usual 'Universal Museum' arguments.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jonathan Jones, 'The Parthenon marbles are the world's most beautiful art – and that's why we should give them back'

Jonathan Jones, 'The Parthenon marbles are the world's most beautiful art – and that's why we should give them back' Guardian Monday 18 August 2014

"The way the Elgin Marbles debate has turned art into an ideological plaything is a terrible distraction from looking at the bloody things".
The sad truth is that in the British Museum, the Parthenon sculptures are not experienced at their best. For one thing, they're shown in a grey, neoclassical hall whose stone walls don't contrast enough with these stone artworks – it is a deathly space that mutes the greatest Greek art instead of illuminating it. So if the British Museum wants to keep these masterpieces it needs to find the money to totally redisplay them in a modern way. Or, it could give them to Greece, which has already built a superb modern museum to do just that.